USACA 'unprofessional and not trustworthy' - ICC report
A leaked document authored by an ICC review group to investigate the USA Cricket Association's state of affairs described the board as "unprofessional and not trustworthy". The group, headed by ICC chief executive David Richardson and head of global development Tim Anderson, reached its conclusions through interviews with more than 100 stakeholders. The report also stated that despite "cordial" communications between the ICC and USACA during the two-month information-gathering process, the ICC review group's survey was hampered by "resistance" from the board with information - particularly related to USACA's bookkeeping and financial accounts - being "delayed, not provided at all and/or obstructed".
The 40-page document, a copy of which has been obtained by ESPNcricinfo, is dated Wednesday June 24 and was presented to the ICC board during the annual conference in Barbados. On June 26, USACA was suspended following a unanimous vote of the ICC board due to "significant concerns about the governance, finance, reputation and cricketing activities of USACA". At a press conference confirming the suspension, Richardson said that the comprehensive report on USACA, which was presented to the ICC board, "did not make for very pretty reading." These are some of the main issues raised in the report.
USACA Membership only represents "20-25%" of stakeholders in the USA
Much of the report's focus is on detailing the ICC's targets to develop both the grassroots and commercial market potential of cricket in the USA and how USACA has been an impediment to those missions. Specifically, the ICC says USACA is an important contributor to this potential not being realised. The report produces data which shows that USACA can definitively claim membership to only 35 of 94 hard-ball leagues in the country while another 55 leagues comprising women, youth and softball teams fall outside its fold. Hence, USACA is affiliated with 35 of 149 leagues (23%) in the USA.
"There is a real need for cricket in the USA to be led by a governing body that is respected and trusted by the large majority of cricket playing stakeholders in the country," the report said.
The ICC review group reportedly met with the USACA board for more than 10 hours, after which it requested names of people and leagues to speak with. According to the report, USACA never provided any names. Instead, the USA board wrote to member leagues "suggesting that they do not respond to the survey until [USACA] had clarified certain matters with the ICC." Only 40% of USACA leagues responded to the ICC survey, compared to 85% of American Cricket Federation affiliated leagues.
Accusations of election fraud
The report also included detailed evidence of USACA's inconsistent data submissions - both through internal USACA meeting minutes as well as evidence supplied from USACA to the ICC - which raise questions on the legitimacy of sections of USACA's membership base and allegations of election fraud. Specifically, the ICC lists 11 leagues which it claims are "ghost" or "paper" leagues that do not engage in cricket activity. Alternately there are leagues that don't meet Full Member criteria and attached voting rights under the USACA constitution but were still allowed to vote in the 2015 election.
The list also includes leagues whose prominent officials have also held specially designated roles in USACA or Cricket Holdings America LLC over the last several years. Further, the report describes an interview with a current USACA board member who alleged that the Seattle Cricket League was a fake league registered solely for the purpose of gaining a vote.
Obstruction to financial oversight
USACA came under heavy criticism for its near complete refusal to cooperate with requests to open its financial accounts for review. The requests were made by ICC chief financial officer Faisal Hasnain and general counsel Iain Higgins, who were also part of the review group. It was revealed that USACA owes investors in Cricket Holdings America, including Indian businessman Rajiv Podar and Australian cricket agent Neil Maxwell, $2.6 million.
As for the $200,000 loan the ICC gave to USACA in June 2013, the ICC made a direct inquiry to find out whether USACA used any of this money to pay off legal or settlement fees as part of court battles the American board fought during its 2012 general election. USACA failed to provide an adequate response or evidence that the loan was not misused to pay off legal fees instead of its intended use for other development functions.
"In response to early questions on this issue, a simple list of transactions was provided as representing the manner in which the loan was utilised," the report said. "However, no further supporting documents or bank details were provided.
"USACA's treasurer has replied, 'Per my review of USACA's financial records, funding received from all of our sources are deposited in our general banking account and payments for obligations are made when due. ICC funds are not accounted for in a separate fund or bank account. In each year were [sic] we have paid legal fees and settlement amounts, funding from other sources have covered those fees.'"
However USACA's federal tax returns indicate that their only sources of income outside of the $200,000 loan from the ICC in 2013 amounted to $572,000. Out of that, nearly $400,000 came from ICC Associate scorecard grants and $90,000 from membership subscriptions. USACA's legal fees that year were listed as $362,000 in addition to $630,000 in legal fees from 2012.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna