Regulators asked to investigate audits of FAI accounts

Oireachtas committee chairman sends requests as Deloitte defends ‘robust’ auditing

Committee members raised concerns that they may not have a chance to question the outgoing president of the FAI, Donal Conway, if the association does not appear before it in advance of his finishing date in January. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Committee members raised concerns that they may not have a chance to question the outgoing president of the FAI, Donal Conway, if the association does not appear before it in advance of his finishing date in January. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

The chairman of the Oireachtas sport committee has written to accountancy and auditing regulators asking them to investigate the audits of the Football Association of Ireland’s (FAI) accounts.

Chairman Fergus O’Dowd took the step after the committee decided in private session on Wednesday that it did not have the remit to call the auditors of the association, Deloitte, before it.

Mr O’Dowd told The Irish Times that he was taking the step due to the emergence of a €55 million liability in the accounts of the FAI, which was arrived at following a re-examination and restating of financial results for 2016 and 2017, and the publication of 2018 accounts.

In a letter to the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA), seen by The Irish Times, Mr O’Dowd said he noted “with great concern” that recent surpluses had been dramatically reduced in restated accounts. In 2017, a surplus of €2.8 million had become a loss of €2.9 million. For 2018, the FAI made a loss of almost €9 million.

“Can I ask that your authority, as the Irish Accounting Supervisory Authority, will investigate as a matter of urgency all aspects of these audits by Deloitte,” he wrote. A similar letter will be sent to the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board (Carb).

Declaration

Earlier this year, Deloitte filed a declaration with the companies office that accounts had not been kept properly. Last week, it said it was “unable to obtain sufficient audit evidence that the [FAI]will continue as a going concern”. Deloitte was paid almost €500,000 for audit work across the three most recent sets of accounts. In a statement on Wednesday Deloitte said: “We take our statutory obligations as auditors very seriously and have acted accordingly. We have a robust audit process that is in line with those obligations.”

It is quite clear the whole country, myself included, want answers. Mr Conway is in a position to answer them

It came after the FAI declined an invitation to appear in front of the committee on Wednesday, despite first indicating that it would answer members’ questions about its finances. The committee is set to invite the FAI back in front of it next Wednesday, and if that date doesn’t suit, it will offer a standing invite to the organisation to appear whenever it can be arranged.

Committee members raised concerns that they may not have a chance to question the outgoing president of the FAI, Donal Conway, if the association does not appear before it in advance of his finishing date in January.

‘Answers’

Noel Rock, the Fine Gael TD for Dublin North-West, said “it is quite clear the whole country, myself included, want answers. Mr Conway is in a position to answer them. The committee are prepared to meet the FAI at any time, day or night, to get those answers into the public domain.”

Mr Conway served on the board of the FAI during almost the entire tenure of former chief executive John Delaney, and was on the board when his controversial pay deal, including generous loyalty and pension payments, was signed off. He said last week he was guilty of a “sin of omission” in relation to certain aspects of corporate governance failings by the board.

Committee member Catherine Murphy said she believed all the directors who served on the board during Mr Delaney’s tenure should step down. “By virtue of the fact that some directors were part of the old board, it’s not giving the new directors a fair chance.”

Elsewhere, a committee plan to simultaneously question the FAI and Minister for Sport Shane Ross next Wednesday has been abandoned after Mr Ross made it known that he would not be willing to appear before the committee at the same time as the association.