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Sports News of Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Source: The Chronicle

Kotoko court saga: KK Sarpong admits protocol payments

Dr. K. K. Sarpong, former Chief Executive Officer of Kumasi Asante Kotoko Football Club, who is currently in a legal battle with the Kumasi-based club, has admitted that he cannot provide receipts covering all protocol payments he made whilst in office, as captured in Kotoko’s accounts up to 30th June, 2012.

This, according to Dr. Sarpong, is as a result of the way and manner protocol payments are made in the local football industry, stating that generally, they are not covered by receipts.

He explained that payment of protocol in the local football industry does not require the consultation and approval of shareholders and or the Board of Directors.

He, however, hinted that Samuel Opoku Nti, current Acting Chief Executive Officer of Kumasi Asante Kotoko, Jerry Asare (deceased), Board Member, and Alhaji Abu Lamini, also Board Member, among others, are aware of how the protocol payments were made in respect of the monies mentioned above.

Part of Dr. Sarpong’s statement of defense and counter-claim reads:

“In answer to paragraph 18(c) of the statement of defense and counter-claim, plaintiff avers that protocol payments are made in the ordinary course of business, and does not require shareholder or Board approval, and that protocol payments, as made in the football industry, are not generally covered by receipts and tend to cover press soirees, officials hospitality and appreciation, player motivation, and club to club cooperation.

In effect, the alleged payments in excess of GH¢13,000, standing in the name of the plaintiff, would have been made in good faith and in furtherance of the activities of the defendant, as was the practice of the defendant before, during and after the tenure of office of the plaintiff.

All such payments were part of a figure of GH¢82,248 in respect of publicity protocols, as captured in the defendants own management accounts for the year ended 30th June 2012, and signed by the Finance Manager of the defendant.

Other assigns of the defendant, including two current officers of the defendant, all took part in facilitating the payment of these protocol monies without providing receipts, and the plaintiff’s payments, without admitting the amounts quoted, cannot be treated in isolation.

The officers include: Mr. Samuel Opoku Nti -Special Assistant to Executive Chairman, Mr. Charles Poku- Finance Manager, Mr. Ben Nti -Administrative Manager, Mr. Jerry Asare (deceased) -Board Member, Alhaji Abu Lamini -Board Member, Mr. Nana Kwame Dankwa -Deputy Accra Rep, and Ernest Owusu-Ansah -Operations Manager.”

Dr. Sarpong, nonetheless, denied allegations by Asante Kotoko that the receipts on how he spent an amount of US$17,021 on transport expenses were missing, saying all through his tenure as Kotoko boss, he never told any official, auditor or board member that receipts covering the above expenditure were missing.

“Without admitting the amounts stated, all receipts covering any transport expenses were provided in support of any claims made, to the Finance Manager of the defendant, who is still at post and whose responsibility it is to keep appropriate record of such receipts, and that any claim to the contrary by the defendant is an attempt to deceive the court. Plaintiff could have provided photocopies of the receipts if defendant had requested same for any purpose,” Dr. Sarpong stated.

The Business Executive further dismissed allegations by Asante Kotoko that he (Dr. Sarpong) at a point indicated that there was a ‘mix up’ in receipts covering an amount of GH¢70,581, which include transportation and incidental expenses on Messrs Kwame Baah-Nuako, Patrick Ofori, and himself.

He stated: “Plaintiff maintains that he never made any such disclosure anywhere, and to whosoever, as all receipts covering any transport expenses were provided in support of any claims made to the Finance Manager of the defendant who is still at post, whose responsibility it is to keep appropriate record of such receipts, and that any claim to the contrary by the defendant is an attempt by the defendant to deceive the court.”

The former Kotoko boss also refuted claims contained in paragraph 18(d) of the Kumasi-based club’s statement of defense, which stated that Asante Kotoko made payments to some faceless people at Feyenoord Football Club.

According to Dr. Sarpong, all payments made to Feyenoord were monies owed the club in respect of the sale of Yaw Frimpong, a former player to TP Mazembe, and also monies paid to settle Kotoko’s indebtedness to the former for the purchase of some of its players.

Dr. Sarpong, what is more, touched on the transfer of players to Petrolos Atletico Luanda of Angola, and the role of West One Limited in all the transactions.

“West One Limited was the agent for the club at all material times during the negotiations and transfer of the player Ben Acheampong from the defendant to Petrolos Atletico Luanda of Angola, and was entitled to 15% commission on all sums received in respect of the player transfer and the cooperation agreement between the defendant and Petrolos Atletico Luanda.

“That the payments made to West One were duly supported by records, including agreements, emails, invoices and the agreement made between the defendant and Petrolos Atletico Luanda. If defendant has misplaced the original of the correspondence on above, plaintiff is ready to furnish it with e-mail communication and photocopies of records,” he averred.

In response to 18(f) of Kotoko’s statement of defense and counter-claim, Dr. Sarpong declared that Wilsad Limited introduced and assisted in lobbying, negotiating and signing the sponsorship deal between Asante Kotoko and Scancom Limited, operators of MTN telecommunication network.

He continued that Wilsad Limited, at all times, acted as the agents of Asante Kotoko for a fee of 10% on the monthly sponsorship package the club received from MTN.

“Wilsad Limited arranged, attended, and guided officials of the defendant, including the plaintiff, at relevant meetings with the sponsor, and that resulted in an enhanced and innovative sponsorship deal that did not bring only cash, but projects, cup winning bonuses, and products to the defendant,” he stated.

Dr. Sarpong observed that, so far, Wilsad Limited received only five monthly payments, amounting to GHC25,000, due to liquidity problems faced by Asante Kotoko, saying it took a lot of pleadings from the Kumasi-based club to get Wilsad Limited to agree to suspend the rest of the payments until Kotoko’s finances had improved.

The one-time Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) boss continued that all payments made to the company were supported with relevant invoices and agreements, adding that photocopies of documents on the relationship are all available.

“Plaintiff maintains that total payments made to Wilsad Limited to date, amounts to GHC25,000, and cannot in any way exceed the sum of GHC556, 247, excluding interest claimed by plaintiff in this suit, as alleged by the defendants,” the former Kotoko Chief Executive Officer explained.