New US indictment against Warner in FIFA bribe scandal

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New US indictment against Warner in FIFA bribe scandal
Former national security minister Jack Warner.
Former national security minister Jack Warner.

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) – “Let the US do what they want.”

That was the response of former FIFA vice president Jack Warner to a BBC report yesterday which stated that a new indictment was revealed in the US District Court on Monday alleging former FIFA executives, including Warner, took bribes in return for voting for Russia and Qatar to host the World Cup. That’s the claim by US prosecutors in the indictment.

Warner confirmed the issue arose in the US Monday.

“That’s stale news,” he added, dismissing the US action.

The development is the latest action on FIFA issues after Warner was indicted in May 2015 by the US Department of Justice and an arrest warrant issued for him and other FIFA officials. Warner and the others were accused of wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering. Warner denied allegations and has fought extradition to the US since then.

According to reports, in July 2019 a US court entered a default judgement against Warner in a civil lawsuit filed by CONCACAF when Warner failed to appear, ordering him to repay US$79 million allegedly fraudulently obtained from CONCACAF.

On the latest issue, the BBC described Monday’s latest US indictment as a “highly significant twist” in the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ long-running investigation into allegations of football corruption. The BBC stated that documents claim several former FIFA executive committee members “were offered or received bribes in connection with their votes.”

The US Justice Department made allegations against Nicolas Leoz, former president of South American governing body CONMEBOL and ex-Brazil federation supremo Ricardo Teixeira. Both are accused of taking money “in exchange for their votes in favour of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.”

The BBC claimed Trinidadian Warner was also allegedly paid £4m through a host of offshore shell companies to back Russia’s 2018 bid. Russia beat England to win the right to host the 2018 World Cup. BBC noted that Warner was president of CONCACAF and that Teixeira and Warner, who’s also been banned for life by FIFA and CONCACAF, have avoided extradition to the US.

Former executives at US television’s 21st Century Fox have also been charged in the indictment with making payments to South American football officials to secure broadcast rights.

The BBC quoted FBI assistant director-in-charge William Sweeney saying they were “investigating the illicit handshakes and backroom deals allegedly hidden in the infrastructure” of football events, venues and marketing contracts.

Sweeney was quoted saying, “The first public charges date back to 2015. This should illustrate to everyone still hoping to score millions corruptly, we’re going to find you.”

The BBC noted this was the first time US prosecutors “formally laid out in such detail how the alleged corruption was conducted. However, the indictment does not specify who was behind the alleged bribery. FIFA said it would “continue to provide full cooperation.”

Meanwhile, on another aspect of Warner’s life – politics- the former Independent Liberal Party (ILP) leader said yesterday that he’ll be doing something in the politics ahead.

“Everything is timing, politics is about timing,” he replied when asked when and what.

Warner’s ILP successor Rekha Ramjit was among small party leaders recently involved in talks with former United National Congress (UNC) leader Basdeo Panday on a political alternative for T&T’s upcoming general elections. Warner attended the launch of talks in February but several other party leaders – COP, MND and others – decided against Panday’s suggestion for parties to dissolve temporarily and contest under one banner.

Panday, however, continued discussions with the ILP and others. Deliberations are currently on hold due to the COVID-19 issue.

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