John-Williams threatens legal action against GML

(From left to right) In this Nov 18, 2019 file photo, Concacaf president Victor Montagliani, former TTFA president David John-Williams, PM Dr Keith Rowley, FIFA president Gianni Infantino, and Sport minister Shamfa Cudjoe cut the ribbon at the opening of the Home of Football,in Couva. PHOTO BY NARISSA FRASER -
(From left to right) In this Nov 18, 2019 file photo, Concacaf president Victor Montagliani, former TTFA president David John-Williams, PM Dr Keith Rowley, FIFA president Gianni Infantino, and Sport minister Shamfa Cudjoe cut the ribbon at the opening of the Home of Football,in Couva. PHOTO BY NARISSA FRASER -

FORMER president of the TT Football Association (TTFA) David John-Williams has threatened legal action against Guardian Media Ltd (GML) and reporter Mark Bassant over a recent story entitled Secret Panama Trail.

The story alleged that John-Williams diverted monies from FIFA, which were intended for the Home of Football project in Couva, into a secret bank account in Panama. The project was initially set to cost approximately US$2.75 million (TT$20 million) but the GML story alleged that the TTFA was granted a second loan for US$2 million by FIFA member associations (Africa and Caribbean) chief Veron Mosengo-Omba in January 2019.

It was reported earlier this week that the TT Police Service’s Fraud Squad is investigating the allegations of financial misconduct.

The Home of Football was opened by FIFA president Gianni Infantino and the Prime Minister on November 18, 2019, but John-Williams’ successor William Wallace closed the facility due to the lack of commercial insurance.

In a statement, John-Williams said, “I have been advised that Bassant’s attempt to immunise himself and GML from liability does not have the prophylactic effect for which he and GML undoubtedly wished and that he and GML are both liable for the false and defamatory allegations contained and made in these (reports).”

John-Williams, who served as TTFA president from 2015-2019, said he had engaged lawyers “to examine and to advise me on the material which I have in my possession and which is otherwise available to me” and “will be instructing the filing of legal proceedings against GML and Bassant for these allegations which have caused my family and myself incomprehensible distress.”

John-Williams, who is a founding member of top local club W Connection, added, “After their review thereof and to the extent that I am permitted by my attorneys-at-law to do so, I also propose to make publicly available the material which I have in my possession and which is otherwise available to me, which will show all of these allegations to be baseless.”

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