This column also appears in the November 22, 2010 edition of the Business Mirror.
The Game of their lives Part 2
The Game of their lives Part 2
Frenemies and a bad investment. The truth, however, is somewhere between the lines. The third party in the PFF troubles sits down to be interviewed.
by rick olivares
This coming November 27, 2010, the 32 football associations under the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) will come together in Manila to convene for its year-end Congress.
The Congress will be significant for one thing – that disgruntled members will try to seek the vote of 2/3s of the assembly to oust the current federation president Jose Mari Martinez who is accused and has been taken to court for a variety of alleged offenses and violations stemming from falsification of public documents to misappropriation of monies given to the PFF through the Financial Assistance Program of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). FIFA provides $250,000 a year not counting the Vision Asia project that provides a similar amount.
In the midst of the contentions between the two parties is one Henry L. Tsai.
Last September 24, 2010, Richard Montayre of the Cebu Football Association and Dick Emperado of the Dumaguete Football Association filed a case against Martinez for falsification of public documents when he appointed Tsai to the position of Executive Vice President and transferred PFF funds into the latter’s account “for safekeeping” both without board approval. Both actions are not only a violation of the corporation code but also the federation’s by-laws and FIFA rules. Martinez admitted that the “appointment” of Tsai was “an honest mistake” and pledged to resolve the mess.
Who is Henry Tsai and what was role did he play in the PFF?
In a conversation with Tsai over coffee at the UCC in Burgos Circle at Bonifacio Global city last Wednesday evening, November 17, 2010, the former shipping man recounted how his relationship with Martinez and the PFF came about.
Both Martinez and Tsai worked together for four years at Soriamont, a shipping company, but lost contact with one another for almost 20 years. After a chance encounter at Amici Restaurant in Connecticut Street, Greenhills in mid-2009, Martinez invited Tsai to help football. Tsai initially declined describing himself as “bored and retired.”
Martinez outlined four responsibilities for Tsai should he accept the offer: one, to help with the marketing; two, to fund the PFF’s activities; three, to put up a shop at the basement of the PFF House of Football where he could sell football training equipment and other paraphernalia purchased from Taiwan (the rent for the basement was pegged at PhP40,000 a month); and four, to provide some living quarters for then-men’s national team coach Desmond Bulpin.
Tsai mulled the offer over because he was “never a sportsman” and he’d be like “a fish out of water.” But he eventually accepted and he infused the federation’s coffers with over PhP 3 million and lent a Nissan Cefiro to Martinez for official use. “Without a promissory note that I would get paid back.” he added. “It was a gentleman’s agreement.”
“We didn’t have any money,” recounted Martinez. “We have so many programs and not enough money. So I asked Henry to invest.”
“The reason why Mari borrowed money from me was because by year-end wala nang pera ang PFF. There was nothing for payroll, 13th month pay, utilities, everything,” explained Tsai. Ironically, Tsai did not charge any interest to the loan except that he wanted to be paid back “the minute the aid money from FIFA arrives. I’m a good friend that’s why.”
At the start of 2010, the PFF’s Treasurer, Antonio “Bok” Marty, tendered his resignation but Martinez prevailed upon him to stay a few more months. When it became apparent that they could no longer convince Marty to stay, former PFF marketing officer Gerry Ledonio recommended to Martinez that Tsai be given a position to maximize his abilities.
The title bequeathed to Tsai was “Executive Vice President”.
Said Tsai of that move: “I didn’t want to be a part of anything because what do I know about football? I was there because Mari needed help. If you check, my salary was for only one peso. But Mari wrote three lines in the minutes of the meeting that was without the approval of the Board of Governors.”
The three lines Tsai was referring to was the Secretary’s Certificate to the PFF accounts with Banco de Oro and Bank of the Philippine Islands. Curiously, there were two different certificates. The one dated January 7, 2010 and signed by then PFF General Secretary Cyril V. Dofitas stated that Martinez and Tsai were approved by the board to sign any checks pertaining to the federation’s two accounts.
Members of the board of governors recall approving no such motion when they met up in Leyte on November 28, 2009. And it was because of this “falsification of public documents” that Martinez’ access to the PFF accounts were suspended and the basis for the complaint filed by Montayre and Emperado.
There was another Secretary’s Certificate dated January 21, 2010 and this time stating there was a board resolution on November 28, 2010 that added Tsai to the signatories for the PFF’s BDO account.
In both certificates, the position stated next to Tsai’s name read: “Managing Consultant.”
Tsai admitted that he knew that there was no board resolution to his addition but when (PFF Finance Officer) Dennis Lacuesta asked me to sign some papers, I thought ayos na. But I was only with the PFF to sign checks nothing more. I also wanted to collect my money.”
But in documents obtained from PFF sources, Tsai did more than sign checks.
In the April 2010 edition of The Goalpost, the PFF’s official newsletter, it is written that the National Men’s Futsal Team that participated in the Asian Football Confederation Championship Qualifiers in Jakarta, Indonesia from February 20-25, was headed by Tsai.
On June 7, 2010, the Valle Verde Country Club, Inc. issued several memos to the PFF stating that the unpaid accounts of Ledonio, Martinez, and Tsai will lead to the suspension of the accounts and membership shares auctioned off.
In a memo dated June 15, 2010, Tsai informed the PFF’s security detail about the rules for access to the office.
One month later, Martinez and Tsai had a falling out and have hurled one accusation after another against each other. Each claiming the other party owes him money.
Martinez accuses Tsai of duping him into investing PFF money into an illegal venture (more on that it part 3) in order to gain more money. “I realize it was wrong but I am determined to recover the money. I did this because we needed to make extra funds for our programs.”
However, according to Tsai, his fallout with Martinez began when he believed that the PFF passbook and its inflows from AFC/FIFA were being kept from him. He said that while his initial loan of PhP 2 million was paid by the PFF, the succeeding loans were not.
Yet in the final audit by Campos, Campos & Co., the accounting firm found out that Tsai had unliquidated cash advances that totaled up PhP 3,371,707.35. Even worse, the PFF has been left with a serious fund shortage of PhP 2,094,000.00 all the way until the end of 2010.
Last November 7, 2010, Tsai filed a complaint against Martinez and Marty for estafa and the violation of the bouncing check law at the Office of the City Prosecutor in Pasig City.
While Tsai says that their friendship is over, he does not wish to destroy Martinez. “All I want is my money back. And the Cefiro.”
In the interest of fairness, this column features the side of Mr. Henry Tsai. So far we've covered all the different characters in the current problems of the Philippine Football Federation. The next ones we write about will be about the National Men's Football Team.