By Paul Nicholson
April 25 – The world’s most wanted football criminal, Jack Warner, has emerged at the top of a list of unsecured creditors compiled by the Trinidad and Tobago FA’s (TTFA) trustee Maria Daniel. The document, filed with the Trinidad and Tobago court, lists Warner’s claim at TT$22.6 million ($3.38 million).
Warner has evaded extradition to the US since 2015 when he was indicted by the US Department of Justice as part of the FIFAgate scandal. He incredibly tops the list of 289 TTFA creditors and, if paid out under the proposal lodged at the court, could potentially receive as much as $400,000.
That Warner is owed any money at all has been variously under dispute by the TTFA’s former administrations, though was accepted by the last elected administration under William Wallace that was eventually removed from office by FIFA and replaced with a normalisation committee.
The debt claimed by Warner was believed to be TT$7 million. How it has now ballooned to TT$22 million, TT$10 million more than the second highest creditor, is unclear.
Former TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips is the second highest listed creditor at TT$12 million, also a debt that has been disputed by TTFA administrations. He was fired by the federation in 2015.
In total the TTFA debt is listed at TT$90.65 million ($13.5 million), of which TT$6.11 million is owed to government and state creditors.
The offer to unsecured creditors in the papers lodged at the court is for the provision of about $2.38 million to settle their claims – about $12.4 million in total. This money would come from a $3 million to loan that is earmarked to settle the full debt.
For that to happen the proposal has to be accepted by the creditors at a meeting on May 5. A majority of the meeting have to vote in favour of the proposal either in person or by proxy. With the proposal being that the first TT$200,000 ($29,800) is paid to every creditor, that is pretty much guaranteed as only 31 of the 291 creditors listed have claims above that figure.
The insolvency rules also state that two thirds of the value of the total claim also have to vote in favour of the proposal for it to go through.
This becomes more difficult for the TTFA to achieve as the top 10 creditors represent about 70.5% of the total debt listed. In that top 10 are five former coaches who were unpaid and have court judgements in their favour against the TTFA – the fact that they are owed the money is pretty much undisputed and they are unlikely to accept payment that could be as low as 14 cents on the dollar. Though it could be a lot more if not all proofs of claim are submitted or the trustee rules out a number of claims as invalid – Warner and Phillips’ claims being the most questionable,
The filed court documents say that so far they have received only 59 proof of claims from the 291 creditors listed.
Home of football not on the block, yet
The financing of the creditor payments is explained as being via an unsecured $3 million loan. The name of the provider of the loan is not given but it realistically could only come from FIFA.
The loan is contingent on the creditors agreeing the debt proposal and that it being approved by the court.
The alternative finance solution would have been a sale of the TTFA’s assets, underpinned by the Home of Football facility, also valued at $3 million. However, the court documents say that this option is not preferred as there are various issues surrounding any sale of the Home of Football facility that suggest a sale would fall significantly short of the valuation.
What it does mean is that if the creditors agreed the proposal the TTFA would enter their new world with a monetiseable asset.
If they don’t agree the proposal then another meeting will be convened within five days to try to find an agreement. If no agreement can be found then the TTFA will be liquidated.
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