Pan American Weightlifting Federation President Jose Quinoñes claims to have the support of the Board  ©Getty Images

A dispute between the outgoing American treasurer of the Pan American Weightlifting Federation (PAWF) and its Peruvian President has become personal after strong comments by both men.

In his resignation letter Phil Andrews, chief executive of USA Weightlifting, told PAWF Board members that he did not know how much money was in the federation's accounts, nor where that money was held.

He said he was "prevented from carrying out the role of treasurer to the standards such a responsibility requires" and stated, "Jose Quinoñes is directly responsible for this unacceptable situation."

Quinoñes, the PAWF President and an influential member of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Executive Board, said Andrews’ decision was politically motivated and that he had not been fully committed to his treasurer’s role.

The Peruvian said Andrews’ explanations for resigning were "absurd".

Andrews claimed that plans to relocate the PAWF secretariat to the United States had been stalled for nearly two years, and that its bank account in Panama had been frozen for nine months.

Since June last year, he said, a "lack of transparency" had left him unable "to oversee the financial status of the organization (sic) in a proper ethical and responsible manner".

A bank account was opened in Panama, as planned, but it was frozen because the PAWF has dealings with Cuba, in contravention of sanctions imposed by Panama's Government.

Andrews said that the PAWF had discussed "retaining a competent accounting professional" but this had not happened.

"The accounts have remained frozen, yet cash is arriving to the PAWF organization… I learned that a bank account had been opened in Peru without my review, to which I am not a signatory as Treasurer, and I do not have any line of sight to the funds.

"I am not currently aware of the balance of cash on hand, nor where the cash is located.

"I also understand bank accounts in the nations of Switzerland and Hungary are being considered."

Persistent governance issues threaten weightlifting's place on the Olympic programme ©Getty Images
Persistent governance issues threaten weightlifting's place on the Olympic programme ©Getty Images

Andrews said he had seen a photo of a cheque for $206,000 (£156,000/€186,000) payable to the PAWF, which has "not been deposited in a bank account that I know of… I understand the next instalment of continental funding from the IWF will be funded to the Peruvian account.

"With this scenario, I am simply unable to carry on as Treasurer in good conscience.

"I do not want to be held responsible for the actions of others who are in control of the PAWF financials, and now have been in entire control since June 2021."

When asked for comment by insidethegames, Quinoñes said the PAWF Board was fully behind him and was strongly critical of Andrews.

"The decision by Mr Andrews to resign and his - in my view - absurd explanations for doing so, has probably very little to do with the PAWF.

"Mr Andrews, and some members of USA Weightlifting are already in election mode with regards the IWF Congress later this year.

"That’s their choice, I’m focusing on our responsibilities here in our American continent and work hard on that every day together with the PAWF executive board.

"It is unfortunate that Mr Andrews did not have the courage and ascendancy to state his true reasons for resigning from the PAWF executive board.

"If he was aware of - as his puts it – ‘all this’, why did he not resign from the position long time ago? 

"Why now? 

"Why not last Wednesday during the EB meeting, instead of approving everything?"

Asked specifically if the PAWF operational bank account was now in Peru, Quinoñes said, "No. 

"What I informed the executive board at first, is that we would try to open a new bank account in Peru, Switzerland and Ecuador.

"Also, that we are still in discussions with the bank in Panama to reopen the account. 

"The aforementioned was approved by unanimous decision by the board, in which Mr Andrews was still included."

Outgoing Pan American Weightlifting Federation treasurer Phil Andrews was damning in his assessment of its President ©Phil Andrews
Outgoing Pan American Weightlifting Federation treasurer Phil Andrews was damning in his assessment of its President ©Phil Andrews

He said Andrews had been "informed at all times" about the PAWF's financial situation, which had been unanimously approved by the Board.

"In addition, Mr Andrews made his report to the PAWF Congress, which the Congress proceeded to approve.

"As for the signature, he was a signatory for the accounts we are trying to open in Peru, Switzerland and Ecuador because we have to wait for the positive legal response from the banking authorities.

"Once we have the approval of the banks to open the accounts, we will request the signature of the president, the treasurer and the general secretary."

Quinoñes also said that one of the "many inconveniences" of the frozen account in Panama was a delay caused when "Mr Andrews failed to comply with his duties as treasurer by not sending the signed forms on time".

Andrews’ absence from board meetings and failure to act on promises, for example to set up a social media network for the PAWF, "had reached such a level that the board had to send him a letter (approved by unanimous decision) inviting him to fulfil his obligations".

"Due to Mr Andrews' lack of commitment, we were without a website and social media for a long time."

William Peña, the Colombian who is general secretary of the PAWF, said he believed Andrews was "too busy with other activities and had neglected his duties as treasurer".

Ten teams from the PAWK are competing this week in Havana, Cuba in the Manuel Suarez Memorial Tournament, a qualifier for next year’s Central American and Caribbean Games in El Salvador.

Colombia is top of the medals table with two days to go.