Trouble brewing in Shark Tank

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iol spt mar8 Sharks-train Steve Haag Gallo Images Allegations of maladministration in a potentially explosive report detailing the finances of the Sharks rugby franchise will be put to a senior employee of Sharks Pty Ltd. Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Durban - Allegations of maladministration in a “potentially explosive” report detailing the finances of the Sharks rugby franchise will be put to a senior employee of Sharks Pty Ltd, on Monday.

It is understood that the allegations involving unauthorised benefits accrued to at least one senior staff member could spill over into other areas of the company.

However, it is understood that members of the new Sharks Pty Ltd board were not interested in settling any matters that incriminated the workings of the franchise, believing that “brushing things under the carpet” would only make matters worse.

The special hearing comes after a forensic investigation into the state of the Sharks’ finances. The investigation was conducted after the brand’s auditing company KPMG was asked to look into the validity of benefits and the manner in which certain transactions were made.

The report is known to contain allegations of non-disclosure of benefits to people in the organisation.

Former chief executive Brian van Zyl, who retired last year, said the sooner the public knew what was in the report, the better.

“This uncertainty is not good for the players, the administration, and the staff who were there at the time the new management took over. It’s almost as though we are being held to ransom, which is totally unfair. If the report has been released for heavens sake let’s know what is in there. Surely that’s not a lot to ask?”

Van Zyl, who held the reins of office at the Sharks’ franchise for nearly two decades, said

: “I believe I have been defamed. If I have, I am certainly not going to take any allegations lying down.”

This week a Durban attorney acting for a Sharks senior employee cited in the report, said the forensic report had been given to the legal team representing the company’s new board. However he did not have a copy of the report.

The secrecy is fuelling suspicion that all is not well at the Sharks.

Sources close to the new board said information could not be made public until the charges contained in the report had been put to the parties concerned.

It has been suggested that without the contents of the report being disclosed, a person singled out for response to any of the allegations contained in it would be unfairly prejudiced.

The Sharks administrative big brass confirm that the investigative audit has been completed, but they remained tight-lipped about any developments relating to it.

It is understood, from insiders, that alarm bells were sounded at a board-level financial report-back two months ago. The meeting was held by the new board to discuss allegations of possible financial irregularity in the franchise, which at the time was under the watch of Van Zyl.

It appears that the financial matters under scrutiny date back several years, before the dawn of a new administrative era last year under the leadership of former Sharks and Springbok captain John Smit.

Van Zyl, who took office in 1994 and retired in February this year, said that he had no idea what the investigation entailed.

As far as he was aware there had been a history of clean audits during his watch.

“I wish I knew what was going on but I was not at any meetings where these matters were discussed,” Van Zyl said.

However his assertion that he was unaware of what the forensic audit entailed has been disputed by the board, which claims Van Zyl was informed of the relevant facts.

Saying on Saturday that the process was at a “delicate” stage, Smit said: “I don’t think it is the right time to comment.”

Sharks Pty Ltd chairman Stephen Saad and board member Graham MacKenzie were not available for comment.

lizclarke4@g[email protected]

Sunday Tribune


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