FORMER Warriors coach Daniel Anderson is among a clutch of Parramatta officials whose role in the club's salary cap scandal has been exposed in extracts from secret boardroom meeting tapes.
The scandal that led to the Eels being docked 12 competition points for blatantly cheating the salary cap through $A3 million worth of undisclosed third-party payments has blown up further overnight after Fox Sports obtained a copy of the NRL's Breach Notice issued to Parramatta Eels on May 3, which details the tape recordings.
The detailed transcripts expose how club powerbrokers schemed to establish a system dubbed the "Premiership Club" which was deliberately designed to secure secret "slush fund" third-party payments for players.
On the recordings, board member Tanya Gadiel talks about the f-word - "fraud" - while another board member Andrew Cordwell instructs the tape be switched off when the group is deep in discussion about Anthony Watmough and a dodgy third-party deal.
The tapes clearly show the three board members who the NRL has suspended - chairman Steve Sharp, deputy chairman Tom Issa and Peter Serrao - along with CEO John Boulous and Anderson, the general manager of football at the club, were abundantly aware of what was going on at the club.
Sacked CEO Scott Seward and Boulous are identified as two of the primary architects of the scheme, while board members Gadiel and Cordwell appear to have dodged a bullet by the NRL refraining from stripping them of their credentials.
For Parramatta's legion of blue and gold fans, the transcripts of the tapes will at least provide some clarity about who knew about why the Eels have been stripped on 12 competition points and fined $1 million by the NRL.
These are the transcripts that were produced by the NRL in chronological order.
Fox Sports chose not to publish names of players and agents from the transcripts, and marked those as "REDACTED".
PARRAMATTA EELS BOARD ROOM RECORDING: 10 December 2013
SCOTT SEWARD (EX-CEO): We do need, and what we'll do, is we'll actually sit down and go through TPA's as a whole. There's a few different options. I've spoken to Todd Greenberg about the way that Canterbury, and the best options, I've spoken to Wayne Beavis to tell us how f$%^ed we are, um, and the like. But it is a case of sitting down and working out the best way we can do it. Because right now we're batting this game with one arm tied behind our back. The Roosters have probably got $1.5m in TPA, and that's fair, that's the game. That's the way it is.
JOHN BOULOUS (SUSPENDED CEO): Who owns TPA's at the moment?
TOM ISSA (SUSPENDED DEPUTY CHAIRMAN): They gave it to Jamie (Hollebone, ex-GM corporate sales) initially.
SEWARD: Ken (Edwards, the ex-CEO) gave it to Jamie, Jamie didn't know anything about it, he still doesn't know anything about it, so that's why we've got zero.
PETER SERRAO (SUSPENDED BOARD MEMBER): John, do you know much about it, the process?
BOULOUS: I'm learning about it, yeah, I understand the concept of it though.
SEWARD: There's a few ways we can do it. The consequences are enormous if we stuff it up because it is what it is. It's supposed to be arm's length, it's actually supposed to have nothing to do with us. So we've just got to make sure we do it the right way.
STEVE SHARP (SUSPENDED CHAIRMAN): Melbourne stuffed it up.
SEWARD: It's important we do it right. (Player's name REDACTED) is a massive concern.
ISSA: Only because he doesn't honour the commitment that you make. Players think TPA is free money, they've actually got to do something.
SEWARD: The problem we've got, let's use (REDACTED) as an example. There's a contract done, it's a hand written contract. It's all handwritten, it says "TPA - please note we cannot guarantee this", which is the correct way to do it. Problem is there's a secondary letter, which says we will guarantee it. You can't do that. You can't do that.
SEWARD: The secondary letter has come from Ken (Edwards) So, but we've got to honour this stuff. I've seen the letter. I got shown - it was shoved in my face.
UNKNOWN: Look the Broncos have done it very well over the years, we've had, what is it, the Thoroughbred Club, we need to create something like that. I know we tried to ..
SEWARD: We've got that on the agenda right now, that's part of what we're doing. We're waiting for Daniel (Anderson) obviously to get here, John (Boulous) has now had a couple of weeks - one of the suggestions to us is that we actually employ an external consultant and that's what they do.
SEWARD: We get the Chairman's club up and running or the Locker Club or whatever the hell we call it, it doesn't actually matter, but we start to get a pool ...
PARRAMATTA EELS BOARD ROOM RECORDING: February 14, 2014
SERRAO: TPA's, you mentioned last time ..
SEWARD: We're now at a stage where we are discussing with people that are actually going to form the Committee for the Premiership Club that we're looking at. Everything is working in the right space at this stage and the guys have had meetings with the potential external consultant who is going to come on and do that other side of the TPA's as well, so we're well in track and we're actually now starting to ..
SERRAO: John (Boulous) is the central point of contact for that?
SEWARD: It'll be John and Daniel (Anderson), obviously, Daniel ... to use the Premiership Club for example, John gets it and Daniel will spend it.
SERRAO: Yeah, yeah, but he's the main point of contact as we've got in the minutes here ..
SEWARD: Yeah, John will be the main point of contact, and importantly the reason for that is both Steve (Sharp) and myself are the one that have to sin the Stat Decs for the salary cap so it can't be either of us, so John's the right point of contact from a commercial perspective and that's the way it will run.
SHARP: I arranged a meeting today with a potential Third Party organisation so, we went around a bit, but at the end of the day we got to where we wanted to get to, they've come up with some ideas and some interest and I'm pretty confident we'll get something out of this particular group and probably get some pretty strong leverage out of it.
SEWARD: We're starting to make some quite positive progress there.
SHARP: Have you made an arrangement with that other, um ... Steven Moss (club benefactor)?
SHARP: When's that happening?
SEWARD: It will hopefully be Monday. I'm just waiting for Steven to come back to me with that. We've been backwards and forwards on email.
SHARP: So the one today looks positive and that sort of stuff, a large accounting firm, they're in the promotions game as well, so that's where we can leverage off for the use of our Players and that.
PARRAMATTA EELS BOARD ROOM RECORDING: March 2014
BOULOUS: There's a note ... about the Premiership club in the minutes, I don't know if it should really be in the minutes ... I think that should be taken out.
SEWARD: Yeah, we can talk about the Premiership club now. Do you mind if we have a look at that? Guys, we have to be really careful with this. You know, it's sailing as close to the wind as breaking the salary cap possibly can. So I just think we need to be, we shouldn't have anything in the board minutes about the Premiership club.
SEWARD: Technically we should have nothing in writing about the Premiership club either, because the Premiership Club is not ours. It is a third party organisation. So we need to, you know, when we get contacts pass them on, and we'll go and do the deal but - and we'll obviously, communicate everything that is happening in that space, but we need to be so goddamn careful with this it's not funny. This is not the Bulldogs and it's not the Melbourne Storm stuff, but let's not even get anywhere near that. This is a pure, third party organisation that is separate and independent and is at true arm's length of our business so we shouldn't be discussing it.
BOULOUS: In relation to the distribution of funds so I don't think that should ...
ISSA: I don't write the minutes.
BELL: Just not typing anything now. (Laughter).
BELL: It's in the last minutes.
SEWARD: It's even, it's things like don't send me an email that says anything about Premiership Club, to be honest though, that's all I'm, you know - just the contacts.
SERRAO: They're only draft minutes anyway.
BOULOUS: Yeah, I was just saying that they shouldn't be ...
SEWARD: We're probably being overly cautious on it.
ISSA: We need to be.
SEWARD: Correct. Because this is how we can fix next year. And the year after.
BOARD ROOM RECORDING: 26 March 2014
DANIEL ANDERSON (SUSPENDED GM OF FOOTBALL): (Three players' names REDACTED) they're all on our books. And it's crippling to our salary cap and our strategic direction of your club. So at the end of 2015, we need to - we've got a lot of good young kids but they're going to be so expensive we won't have them in three years. So (player's name REDACTED) because of his contract style, we might only have him for two or three years, unless we've got assistance: TPA's. That's it, so he'll be a $300,000 winger within two years.
SHARP: We can get those. We've got to work hard to get those TPA's, but we have to clean up that salary cap as well in the next two or three years.
ANDERSON: Well, we do - we can be hard on it, we can assist, and the way to do it is for (player's name REDACTED) deal is you get a TPA now for him, in which case next year, whatever the TPA is that we can afford now, it's off the salary cap in 2015, in his deal. So he gets paid this year in the TPA for next year's contract figure, but we have already got some TPA components that we - so, um, yeah, the Premiership Club, the TPA's is the absolute key, but you need ...
SHARP: You need 30 of 'em ...
ANDERSON: You need a million. Seriously. Because the Bulldogs have got $2 million. The Roosters have got $2.5 million.
SEWARD: See that's the thing, we're not talking about going and getting $500,000 here. We actually need to be getting ...
SEWARD: Millions. But we do, because it's the only way we can clean it up.
ANDERSON: We've done really well this year. I guarantee you.
SHARP: But where it bites into you is that generally a lot of that money comes from what would have been revenue for your corporate side of things.
ANDERSON: It's, look, done a fantastic job already. I mean, even just like - JB will be able to say - like the people that we're talking to and getting a lot of information to do it properly, and I'm there going personally going "in six to eight weeks", 'cause the trigger's going to hit in 10 weeks for a lot of them, so we need to contract (Two players' names REDACTED), all these blokes - we need to contract them in the next 10 weeks and extend their deals so that next year's deal is not the trigger deal, the accelerator. (Player's name REDACTED), for instance. You know, he's going to be on the cap at $260-$270K he'll be on the cap next year, in about four weeks' time. We might be too late on him, but we're trying to. a lot of very good work but it's very hard to set up fast, 'cause you can't do it wrong. It's got to be sustainable.
SEWARD: And that's everything that we're trying to make sure - the key that we've done with setting up the TPA program and the Premiership Club, it actually is regardless of any of us ...
SHARP: Doesn't help when the previous people arrange it and then don't pay.
ISSA: I don't know how TPAs work without a relationship, and I beg to differ with anybody who tells me differently, but 9 times out of 10 all TPAs work by association of somebody.
SEWARD: You're right, I'm not saying you're wrong, but what it is that it needs to be built in that the business still has to be getting some form of benefits as well, and the problem is all of our TPAs have been mates giving a player cash to help someone out. And then when the player doesn't turn up and do anything because he doesn't think he's entitled to, Jack Iori, is a prime example.
SEWARD: Three years the player doesn't turn up. We make sure the players are responsible so yes there's got to be the relationship, but there's also got to be the outcome as well. And if there's no outcome and we don't service these guys properly then walk away. You know, Ray Itouli ... I can't remember ... Itouli from Sanity was the same thing. We got him back this year but he walked away because he didn't get his corporate hospitality and he didn't get his carpark and that was $50,000.
UNKNOWN: So who's been designated to look after TPAs?
UNKNOWN: So you're the contact, John?
BOULOUS: Yeah, for ...
SEWARD: Then we've got, when we set up the Club properly which is at, you know, pure arm's length. There's transactions between the business and the Club and there's transactions between the Club and the players and player managers. That's, that in effect is our "Slush Fund", for want of a better word. The proper TPAs we've actually got an outsource company going out and selling Player's marketable images which is actually what they want, there's two separate things, you know. That's a marketing opportunity and a brand for a Player, that when we need to tap into $50,000 or $100,000.
UNKNOWN: Yep. So are we using that consulting company you were talking about?
SEWARD: Yeah, John met with another guy the other week, so there's ... we're also not going to limit - there doesn't have to be a limit on one, you can actually do it, cut - you know Pierce (unclear) are doing it for us, and we've got some work going on in events - there's plenty of people who can do it, we don't have to limit it to one company, so ... it's coming.
ANDERSON: But it will have to come in a month and it's really significant, very encouraging, in a month. But the reality of it is, and I agree with Brad, I want to set up a good team, but if we keep (player's name REDACTED), I've had (player's name REDACTED) thrown at me from Penrith, he's the big beast who can put the damage on, and if we keep (player's name REDACTED) it's very difficult for us to get (player's name REDACTED) because no one will buy (player's name REDACTED) at all, so we don't get to use him and we'll have to pay a slab of next year.
PARRAMATTA EELS BOARD ROOM RECORDING: 25 June 2015
BOULOUS: I just wanted to discuss one implication of the Tracy (McKelligott, a PR professional) deal which is, many may know and I've only just found out myself. She's got an agreement with Scott (Seward), for four years that she's a third party sponsor of (player's name REDACTED). That has been signed off on by the club.
ANDERSON: Is that what she is getting $150K for?
BOULOUS: No, this is going to be in addition to $150K.
ANDREW CORDWELL (CURRENT BOARD MEMBER): Sorry, say that again.
TANYA GADIEL (CURRENT BOARD MEMBER): She gets paid $150,000 but what does she do, she pays something back.
BOULOUS: She gets paid the $150K, $50K for (INAUDIBLE) and that's OK, that fills that $50 grand that we had budgeted for marketing co-ordinator, she gets $100K, basically, a $8.5K per month to undertake strategy and marketing brand approval. She's in the office 1-2 days a week and she's on call the rest of the time based in Newcastle.
GADIEL: Who does she work with, predominantly?
BOULOUS: Predominantly with Josh (Drayton), and Scott (Seward). Used to be in between them. Basically she does the marketing stuff with Josh, and Scott, she always used to say she was doing strategic projects with Scott. I never knew what they worked on.
CORDWELL: So what you're saying is she does a third-party agreement.
BOULOUS: That's $50K a year for four years. She came to me, Monday morning, when I returned from Melbourne and said I've got a paper here of the correspondence from Scott which has text messages in it, which has a lot of information and then her correspondence with (agent's name REDACTED) to execute the deal.
SHARP: Why (agent's name REDACTED)?
ALL: Because he's (player's name REDACTED) agent.
BOULOUS: So basically, Scott provided a letter to (agent's name REDACTED), introducing Tracy, of which they did the deal.
ISSA: So have they done the deal?
BOULOUS: So Tracy came straight in on Monday morning saying I'm exposed, because I was planning on getting this money through the organisation. Scott had the intention of paying.
ANDERSON: But was he going to give it to her extra than the $150, that's the question.
CORDWELL: So he was going to give her $200 and $50 ...
SHARP: So she was going to increase her charges to us. so we are paying the third party deal.
BOULOUS: And it's done through a company PJ Promotions.
GADIEL: Sorry, that's the f-word, that's fraud isn't it. That is fraud.
SHARP: It's not fraud.
GADIEL: What do you reckon?
CORDWELL: It's certainly fudging the figures, all right ... where going out there ... it's a variation of how people breach the cap.
SHARP: It's not an unknown practice in rugby league clubs to do that. But it's something we would want to shy away from.
GADIEL: This is exactly what I mean if the NRL want to do something bloody useful, they need to get off their arses and get into this stuff.
BOULOUS: So the challenge is ...
GADIEL: Do you want me to do another press release? (Laughter)
CORDWELL: I assume there are a number of these sorts of deals.
BOULOUS: Yeah there are a few to come yet. The challenges are do you turn around and get rid of her straight away and what happens to the deal? I assume she hasn't got the money to pay, she's exposed.
ISSA: How is she exposed?
GADIEL: Because she's got a contract that says she's got to pay $200K a year.
ISSA: Do we know ... and Daniel will know this one ... do we know that it is registered with the NRL?
BOULOUS: So what I'm asking for is, if we go back and say, no I know you've said you've seen some paper tail, but I need to see from the NRL, is there a legitimate third party agreement between PJ Promotions and the NRL. That's our first question.
ANDERSON: I do think we are exposing ourselves if there isn't one.
BOULOUS: If there isn't one.
SERRAO: We don't identify that one. Could you provide us with a list of all the third party agreements.
ALL: Yep OK, good.
CORDWELL: If we can have that for our meeting this afternoon then the NRL can give us that. I think it's pretty simple.
GADIEL: And they're of course going to ask us why we don't have that.
CORDWELL: We're just asking for the third parties to make sure because we've lost our CEO.
SHARP: If the third party deals are supposed to work. We're an introduction agency and that's it. We step away from it then and there. It's not our responsibility, it's best interests whether they work out to $40K or $50K or whatever and registered with the NRL.
BOULOUS: So what you're saying is we're just making sure we've got all the information there as Scott's left.
ISSA: Once we've got that then I think we can reassess Tracy's position. I still think that we are going to have to deal with it, we can't turn and do anything but expose her if that's what it is.
SHARP: If not registered we can replace the third party deal with another one.
ISSA: Correct, yes and that's what we're hoping for. So if it's not registered, then we look to find a legitimate third party deal for (player's name REDACTED) where he will get his $50K or best endeavours. Now, have we got the correspondence for (player's name REDACTED) third parties? Do we know what the third party total value is?
BOULOUS: I believe it to be $200K a year for (player's name REDACTED) third party, that's based on a discussion with (agent's name REDACTED) on Friday, he didn't mention this one, but I've seen the paper work and correspondence between them, I know there's $75K through Black Citrus, and he also mentioned, I don't know if he ended up speaking to you given the week I said speak to Daniel, about E-Group Security. He said I believe it's with E-Group Security and it's for about $65-70K he was going off memory. He had to think about it which probably explains the E-Group invoice.
ISSA: So if you talk about fraud, you talk about deception or we can talk about immoral conduct or whatever it is, when we sat down and discussed individual agreements for individual players, (player's name REDACTED) to our level has always clearly known there is a $75K third party agreement. How it's become $200K is beyond me. And as I've got documentation from meetings with Scott where we went through and said 'mate, where are we exposed, who do we need to get to, how do we get legitimate third party agreements and never ever once was there a conversation, and no doubt you two gentlemen were sat in the same.
ANDERSON: We've had a dozen meetings and never knew about the deal with ...
GADIEL: Yeah, that's the other thing we've got to be careful of, who tries it on? The player managers ... everything.
ISSA: Two years ago everyone came in and hit me and Steve up, and Daniel, when Ricky Stuart left and we took over from Roy. The severity of those were so minimal compared to this that it's absurd. We had people telling us that we owed blokes like (player's name REDACTED) or (player's name REDACTED) or whoever it was $10K or $20K or $30K. Minimal where we could turn around to them and say to a legitimate business do you want the IP address of this player and if you do, it's going to cost you $30K and we're going to do a registered TPA. And blokes turned around and said yep I've got a business, I'd love this kid to come to my kid's birthday party, I'd love this guy to do dinner with us, I'll register a third party, here's 25K (player's name REDACTED) you're done, (player's name REDACTED) you're done. How Scott's done $200K plus a four year deal is beyond belief. But it's just astonishing and I just don't know what, how we get out of it, and do (player's name REDACTED) at $150. They came out in the papers yesterday and said Will Hopoate is owed $150,000 or whatever it is. There was fraudulent conduct conducted previously that we said no to. We said no to Eddie Obeid Junior, we said no to all the ones that were in that dirty laundry where you just turned around and said no. What possessed him to go behind our backs and do it ...
GADIEL: Maybe it had something to do with his mentor.
CORDWELL: Can we turn off the recorder? Can we just turn it off? Is that possible? I just want to speak openly. Can you turn it off and suspend the meeting or something?
SHARP: It's off mate.
PARRAMATTA EELS BOARD ROOM RECORDING: 26 August 2015
GEOFF GERRARD (CURRENT BOARD MEMBER): This was set up to get the high end of town in here, to tap them on the shoulder about third parties, you mentioned last time, Tom (Issa), that we may get one or two. Have we got any?
PARRAMATTA EELS BOARD ROOM RECORDING: 17 September 2015
SERRAO: Can I ask in point 1.5, is there much been happening with Rob Mulherin, and looking into a few things there? Especially he said he was going to look at Irvy's (Jason Irvine, former Eels football manager) phone.
SHARP: Yeah I've done a bit of chase up on that mate to try and find out. I've spoken with Bevan (Paul, Parramatta Leagues club CEO) and with (club lawyer, John) de Mestre and that sort of stuff. Their recommendation is that we probably not proceed with digging up too many skeletons and all that sort of stuff, on some of the stuff we were looking at, and the view is just let sleeping dogs lie and we keep moving on.
GADIEL: There's got to be a point of this where we draw a line in the sand you know.
SHARP: Yes and it's time now where we move forward and focus on our actions and view what we've done right and wrong and move forward and forget about the past.
GADIEL: Yep ....
PARRAMATTA EELS BOARD ROOM RECORDING: 17 SEPTEMBER 2015
PAUL GARRARD (CURRENT BOARD MEMBER): I don't why we are not doing the other thing that we spoke about because we had a discussion in Darwin about it and everyone was committed to doing it and now you are telling me you're not doing it.