South Africa news November 22, 2010

Former member calls for CSA forensic audit

Paul Harris, a former Cricket South Africa (CSA) board member has said that the body must undergo a forensic audit in order to fully exonerate chief executive Gerald Majola of financial impropriety. "The auditors have been kept away from the process," Harris, who is a former chair of the remunerations committee, told ESPNcricinfo. He also claims that CSA has lost money because of bonuses paid to Majola and 39 other staff members after last year's Indian Premier League (IPL).

Harris, together with Colin Beggs, former chairman of CSA's audit committee and Professor Hentie van Wyk, former chairman of CSA's finance committee, issued a statement disassociating themselves from the findings of the board's internal commission of inquiry to look into bonus payments. The investigation, run by CSA vice-president AK Khan, was tasked with looking into R4.7 million (US$671,428) in bonuses paid to staff of which Majola received R1.8 million (US$257, 142).

The commission made its findings public on Monday and cleared Majola of all charges of wrongdoing. They found that he made an "error of judgment" by not disclosing his bonus to remunerations committee (REMCO), but this was in line with precedents set in past non-CSA events and said they would put processes in place to make sure that all future payments are fully disclosed. They also instructed Majola to pay back R28,169 (US$4,024) for travel costs incurred by his children. Harris, Beggs and van Wyk were among the people who made submissions to the commission.

The three claim that they "requested to the see the report before it was made public on several occasions," according to Harris, but they were not provided with a copy. They have still not seen the report and said they have had to "rely on press reports in regard to the findings and board decisions." The trio have still not seen the full report but are "dismayed at the press reports of the decision taken" and believe the board was too hasty is letting Majola off the hook.

In their statement, the three claim that REMCO paid bonuses to staff, including Majola, in excess of the guidelines in 2009 and 2010 because the body had hosted the IPL and Champions Trophy. These bonuses went through the board and were considered to be CSA bonuses. The event bonuses which were paid independently and were paid by the IPL and International Cricket Council were not disclosed . Harris said this was a "duplication" of the money the board had already allocated to be paid as bonuses.

He claims that the money from the IPL and ICC "belongs" to CSA and could have been used to "develop the game at grassroots level rather than … go into the pockets of executives who had already been adequately compensated." Harris believes the board's affiliates could have benefitted from the money and had the remunerations committee known the extent of the event bonuses, they would "never have authorised them".

CSA insisted that it distributed the bonuses according to precedents set during other ICC events, particularly the World Twenty20 in 2007. Harris said he was surprised to hear such a precedent existed. "I was always under the impression that bonuses were distributed from money that belonged to CSA and it was a complete surprise to me to hear that some money bypassed the system." Harris, who is also the chief executive of First Rand Bank, believes that if needs be, the 2007 money should also be investigated.

Both the 2007 and 2009 payments took place under the watch of Harris, Beggs and van Wyk, but they have only mentioned the 2009 payments in their statement, presumably because of the controversy surrounding it. They said that they consider themselves to be "legally accountable" for what happened and will consider their options once they have seen the report. Harris, Beggs and van Wyk were voted off the board at CSA's annual general meeting in August.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent