by Charles Jay
In recent weeks and months, we have been exposed to stories published in newspapers and on the internet about the accounting practices surrounding Manny Pacquiao. One firm was hired ostensibly on the basis of alleged suspicions about money being hidden from him; then they were fired, and now there is a new accounting firm, and two sides who are at each other’s throats, while Pacquiao tries to track down where all his money is.
Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank
Sure, the guy has come a long way, but how far does he still have to go?
There have been fighters who’ve gone bankrupt and others who have gone dead broke, but a lot of them at least knew where their money was at one time, because of course they were busy spending it all.
Well, for someone who ranks, according to some metrics, as one of the five biggest earners among the world’s athletes, Manny Pacquiao has been at a curiously primitive level when it comes to his awareness of his own finances.
At least that is the way it appears from some of the statements that have been made, by Pacquiao’s people, and those from an accounting firm he hired called Vision Quest.
We have read about IRS problems, with terms like “seizure and levies” used. We’ve read that prior to 2010, Pacquiao never had a full-time accountant. Only recently – and I mean VERY recently – were people brought aboard who had any idea how to go about auditing pay-per-view numbers, which would seem to be critical if he’s dealing with eight-figure purses and back-end percentages. Vision Quest claimed to have been “stymied” when trying to find out what the real figures generated by the pay-per-view telecasts were. In the way of careful financial review, things were certainly lacking.
In press statements that were released after their firm was dismissed, Vision Quest maintained that Pacquiao didn’t have “important documents in their possession like bout contracts, bank statements, bout proceeds distributions, endorsement contracts, promoter contracts, co-promoter contracts, property ownership records” and more. There is a company, MP Promotions (owned by Pacquiao), which is supposedly in some kind of partnership with Top Rank, yet doesn’t seem to have the documentation it needs to do business. Or else, why would Vision Quest have been hired in the first place?
Among the allegations the Vision Quest form is making in a pending lawsuit is that Michael Koncz, a business advisor for Pacquiao, is also on the payroll of Top Rank, which if true, would be an absolute no-no. And if true, was Pacquiao aware of it.
And then there is what I know about the earlier part of Pacquiao’s career, in which he was financially exploited, to say the least.
It appears that this guy just has never been well-represented, in terms of those who might be considered to have some kind of fiduciary responsibility (and of course, I use the term rather loosely) toward him.
First of all, anyone and everyone seemed to have some kind of management deal with him.
Sandy Sandoval, senior director of athlete relations for EA Sports, considered giving Pacquaio the cover of a video game, but couldn’t go through with it. “He would have been the ideal guy for the cover of our ‘Fight Night’ game,” he told BoxingAsylum. ” But because of all the layers of people out there representing him or claiming to represent him, I didn’t want to do it.”
Even Lucia McKelvey, the former IMG executive who has been responsible for securing endorsement deals, admits it was a ball of confusion when she came aboard. “When you look at Manny’s world, there was no continuity,” she said, and that is what she has been trying to straighten out.
It could be that Pacquiao, like Muhammad Ali before him, is a little too good-hearted for his own good; too generous, and a little apathetic about money.
I’m bringing all of this up for a reason.
Pacquiao, who is a Congressman in the Philippines at the moment, has designs on becoming a Senator, and there is even talk – which is not idle by any means – of him making a run for President someday. If that happens, there will unquestionably be a group behind the effort that is going to be engineering it all the way, harnessing the power of Pacquiao’s popularity, and as we know, nothing in politics happens without some kind of agenda in mind. Who will those people be? Would Pacquiao be able to manage those kinds of relationships, in such a way that he would know who had honorable intentions and who didn’t? Would he understand real political power, and how to responsibly use it? Or would he resemble one of those guys who is manipulated by a political machine?
These are not unreasonable questions to ask. Let’s face it; in terms of pure political savvy, he’s probably still a lot closer to Roger Clinton than he is to Bill Clinton. Naivete is a charming thing to have sometimes, but not when you are campaigning for a position that involves the highest level of public trust.
This begs the most salient question: if he can’t seem to get organized enough to keep track of his own money, how could he be expected to safeguard taxpayer money? And when you put that into perspective, how far is this “celebrity game” really going to go before it gets a little dangerous?
Over here in the U.S., we can afford to be amused by the prospect of a “President Pacquiao,” but with a sizable part of our readership being Filipino, this is probably the right place for it to be thrown out for some discussion. If you can cast aside your possible resentment that I have posted this piece in the first place, don’t you think the questions deserve some sober, serious, intelligent contemplation?