Johannesburg: Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola did not willfully deceive anybody, the CSA cricket committee chairman Andy O'Connor revealed during an inquiry into the financial affairs of the board.
    
"My understanding is that Majola did not willfully go out of his way to deceive anybody or hide anything from anybody,"

O'Connor told the committee on Wednesday as he quoted from a final report of an external inquiry held into the matter by auditors KPMG that CSA continues to refuse to make public.
    
O'Connor and other CSA officials said they were "shocked" by the contradiction of this in testimony by KPMG's risk and compliance specialist, Herman de Beer, when he told the inquiry committee last week that there were "technical contraventions of the Companies Act" by Majola.
    
The embattled chief executive found much needed support from his colleagues on the fifth day of an inquiry into the financial affairs of the board, sparked by huge IPL bonuses that Majola paid himself and other CSA officials during the league’s second edition.

Several members of CSA made submissions to the inquiry, called by sports minister Fikile Mbablula in the wake of nearly two years of internal wrangling over the bonuses that has seen sponsors shy away and disgruntled fans losing faith in CSA.

CSA officials rallied around Majola, who has earlier been pilloried by testimony from a number of people, including another Board member, Ajay Sooklal. Majola will himself testify next week.
Acting CSA President, AK Khan, was asked by the committee to explain why a call for an external independent inquiry into the IPL bonus issue by ousted president Mtutuzeli Nyoka had been converted into an internal one.
    
"We didn't have anything against an independent investigation, your honour," Khan said, adding that he trusted a new member of the board to lead the internal investigation, which largely cleared Majola.

Asked why the inquiry was not held in public, Khan said, "We didn't prevent anybody; but really we didn't even think about it in that regard."
    
O'Connor, meanwhile, said the board accepted the recommendations made by the internal inquiry headed by Khan as they felt that Majola had performed exceptionally well in his task of organising the IPL-II two years ago when it was held in South Africa due to security concerns around elections in India.

 

"We felt the profit and the amount of work being done and possible benefits economically to the country, warranted those kind of bonus," O'Connor said.
    
"I felt it was not out of the ordinary due to the fact the tournament was put in place in four weeks which was an amazing feat, and felt it was a job well done by Majola and (former CSA chief operating officer) Don McIntosh," he added.
    
There were also claims at the hearing that the media had engaged in "character assassination of Majola".

(Agencies)