ICC forensic audit could lead to ethics charges December 3, 2007

Worries mount for Chingoka and Bvute

Peter Chingoka: is the clock running down on his tenure? © Getty Images
It's been a rare good week for Zimbabwe cricket with their victory over West Indies in the opening ODI at Harare, but off the field things are not so rosy.

A report by Malcolm Conn in today's Australian newspaper claims that Peter Chingoka, the Zimbabwe cricket chairman, and Ozias Bvute, the board's controversial managing director, could face charges under the ICC's code of ethics next year.

In the summer the ZC executive was slammed in a leaked private report from Malcolm Speed, the ICC's chief executive, although publicly the ICC maintained the same hands-off approach that it has for several years. However, Speed's comments regarding the accounts were damning, concluding: "It is clear that the accounts of ZC have been deliberately falsified to mask various illegal transactions from the auditors and the government of Zimbabwe."

In June the ICC appointed KPMG to carry out an independent forensic audit, which has recently finished, and which Conn claims to have seen. It reveals "alarming but unsurprising irregularities in ZC's finances, including millions of dollars in ICC dividends that remain unaccounted for," the paper said. "There has been a lack of co-operation and documentation from ZC, with Chingoka and Bvute constantly changing their explanations for transactions. This includes numerous transactions involving UK bank accounts that have not been adequately justified."

Stakeholders inside Zimbabwe, almost all of whom have been removed from office in recent purges instigated by Chingoka, have long maintained there were glaring irregularities in the accounts but the board has steadfastly refused to address their concerns. The board's recent AGM, the one forum where such matters could be raised, was by invitation only and ZC even struck off life vice-presidents to avoid them being able to attend.

The ICC's code of ethics states that "each director shall act in an honest and ethical manner. In order to facilitate the transparent operation of the ICC, conduct that gives the appearance of impropriety will also be unacceptable."

The ICC won't comment other than to say the report will be considered when the ICC executive meets again in February, but the Australian suggests that there is enough evidence to have Bvute and Chingoka removed from their ICC positions.

Chingoka has been ZC chairman since 1992 and as the senior member of the ICC's executive has used his contacts and experience to deflect much of the criticism aimed at the running of the sport in the country. Bvute was brought in by Chingoka in 2002 and many critics maintain the rapid decline of the game can be traced to his arrival.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo