May 29, 2015
Jack Warner, FIFA officials charged

“I have been afforded no due process and I have not even been questioned in this matter. I reiterate that I am innocent of any charges. I have walked away from the politics of world football… The actions of FIFA no longer concern me.”

These were the words of Jack Warner, leader of Trinidad {{more}}and Tobago’s Independent Liberal Party, in his official response to international reports that he has been indicted and is being sought by US officials in connection with corruption allegations linked to FIFA.

Warner, who is the former vice-president of FIFA and former CONCACAF president, was named as one of 14 high-ranking officials who have been charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering consipiracies — among other offences — in a 24-year scheme to profit from international football through illegal means.

Also caught up in this scandal is current FIFA vice-president and CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb, from the Cayman Islands, who was arrested along with six others on Wednesday morning in Zurich (Switzerland).

In a statement released on Wednesday, May 27, Warner said: “I cannot help but note, however, that these cross-border coordinated actions come at a time when FIFA is assembled for elections to select a president who is universally disliked by the international community.

“At times such as this, it is my experience that the large world powers typically take actions to affect world football. World football is an enormous international business.”

The six other officials arrested were Costa Rican Eduardo Li, FIFA executive committee member-elect; Nicuaraguan Julio Rocha, FIFA development officer; British-Greek Costas Takkas, attaché to the CONCACAF president; Uruguayan Eugenio Figueredo, current FIFA vice-president; Venezuelan Rafael Esquivel, CONMEBOL executive committee member, and Brazilian Jose Maria Marin, member of the FIFA organizing committee for Olympic football tournaments.

According to media reports coming out of Trinidad and Tobago, Warner spent Wednesday night in jail, as his bail was not processed in time for a same-day release. The Trinidad government received a warrant for Warner’s arrest from the US, following which, he turned himself in to local authorities. Although the government has accepted the US extradition request for Warner, it will take months before Warner is actually extradited, as the US has 60 days within which to produce evidence.

After producing evidence, there will be a preliminary hearing, which could take up to four months before it reaches the High Court and even longer if Warner challenges the matter with a judicial review.

In an article in the Trinidad Guardian (May 28, 2015), Trinidad Attorney General Garvin Nicholas said: “Mr Warner is entitled to a fair extradition process and both the requesting (US) and requested (T&T) states intend to abide by the provisions of the treaty to ensure Mr Warner’s rights are respected.”

Nicholas also said that the Central Authority Unit had been working in conjunction with the Department of Justice for over two years regarding the investigation of transnational offences involving Warner — who was ordered to surrender his passport, and is scheduled to appear before a magistrate’s court on July 9.

Also included in the 14 defendants charged by US Attorney General Loretta E Lynch and her team are US and South American sports marketing executives, who have been accused of paying over US$150 million in bribes and kickbacks to secure media and marketing rights to international football tournaments.

According to the LA Times, four of the individuals charged had pleaded guilty previously. These include Warner’s two sons, Daryll and Daryan Warner, who are currently residing in the US.

Daryll is a former FIFA development officer and pleaded guilty in July 2013 to wire fraud and structuring of financial transactions. Daryan pleaded guilty in October 2013 to wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and structuring of financial transactions. (JSV)