A long-running Saanich soccer club is looking for answers – and a lot of missing money – after determining upwards of $250,000 is missing.
Andrew Wynn-Williams, an executive member with the Gorge Soccer Association, says the organization’s executive committee last week initiated a forensic audit of its finances after finding out earlier this month their bank account was empty.
“That was not what we were expecting to see,” he said. “We were expecting $35,000. A lot of that was earmarked for debt repayment and some upkeep to our buildings.” A further look at their bank records determined the organization can’t find up to a quarter million dollars in the last five years.
Until January, long-time president Terry Marra had been the only person in the organization dealing with finances for the previous three years. When the executive committee learned that creditors weren’t being paid on time, they appointed a new treasurer and asked Marra to turn over all financial records.
“It was one of those thing where we felt that we wanted to keep better track of where our money was. It’s not like the creditors were owed enormous sums of money, so we said, ‘Let’s get on top of this, let’s tighten it up,’” Wynn-Williams said.
Marra, 55, died suddenly on Feb. 7, 2014 before the records were turned over. Vancouver Island Regional Coroner Matt Brown says his office is still investigating the cause and manner of Marra’s death.
It wasn’t until the executive committee subsequently had the bank transfer signing authority to someone else that the extent of the soccer club’s financial problems came to light.
The executive immediately contacted the Saanich Police Department, which briefly looked into the matter.
“Very shortly after the complaint was received it was determined the individual of interest was no longer alive,” said Sgt. Steve Eassie. “(The soccer association was) advised that the matter appeared to be civil in nature and that they would have to seek a remedy through civil means.”
Wynn-Williams says that while the club’s investigation is ongoing, it’s already looking ahead at the future of the Gorge Soccer Association. He said the executive already has new financial policies in place to provide accountability in future years.
“Although the bank accounts were empty, we do have revenue from registrations for next year, so the club’s future isn’t in danger,” he said. “As the executive, we were shocked at what has happened, but we’re looking at this as a launching pad going forward. … Once we’ve tracked down how the money’s going unaccounted for, we can look forward and have a much stronger club than it has been the last few years.”
The Gorge Soccer Association has been a fixture in the Saanich sporting community for almost 60 years. More than 1,000 Greater Victoria youth and senior soccer players are currently involved in the sport through the non-profit group.
Wynn-Williams says the hope is that the forensic audit will be complete by the end of March, when the executive committee will have a better sense of how much money is missing.
“For all we know we could do a forensic audit and find the money was spent legitimately on something. At this point though we have no financial records and there’s a significant amount of money that’s unaccounted for,” he said.
The News has searched for, but has not identified, a personal representative or executor/executrix of the estate of Terry Marra.
For more information on the Gorge Soccer Association, visit gorgesoccer.com.