PORT OF SPAIN — It was no secret that Austin Jack Warner, world football power broker and deep-pocketed political benefactor, made his own rules. The secret was his off-book transactions, misleading financial disclosures and maze of parallel bank accounts relating to all of the football bodies he was associated with.
Persons with knowledge of the situation and sensitive and long sought documents obtained by this newspaper reveal that Warner controlled a slew of official and secret bank accounts in the names of key football bodies, specifically, football’s ruling body for North and Central America and the Caribbean, the Caribbean Football Union, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation and LOC Germany 2006 Ltd.
A trusted and influential football figure considered above reproach, Warner maintained a tightly controlled power structure that he put in place which some say is still in force today.
No questions were asked and no explanations were provided, either to the executive staff that managed the affairs of the various football bodies or to the accountants and auditors who signed off the financial statements without qualification.
His accountant-in-chief and general man of business, Kenny Rampersad, a certified accountant of 3A Queen’s Park West, Port of Spain, facilitated and covered up the deceit.
He was also the beneficiary of all of the accounting briefs, from all of the football bodies, and in some cases, he was both bookkeeper and auditor.
Investigations by the Express found that Warner funnelled tens of millions of public and private sector money into parallel bank accounts, often held at the same branch as the official bank accounts.
For instance, the Republic Bank account on Tragarete Road, Port of Spain in which disgraced ex-AFC (Asian Football Confederation) president Mohamed bin Hammam wire transferred US$250,000 to Warner in 2008, was not known to CFU officials.
CFU officials had knowledge of only two accounts, a TT-dollar and US-dollar at that bank. All of the CFU accounts at that branch, official and secret, were controlled by Warner.
In the case of the secret CFU account, the International Court of Arbitration for Sports, found evidence of commingling of private Warner money and CFU funds.
In the long-fought legal battle with the Soca Warriors for their fair share of earnings derived from the 2006 World Cup, TTFF’s former top officials, Oliver Camps and Richard Groden, claimed to have knowledge of only three bank accounts for the national football federation.
Warner’s frontmen claimed to have little knowledge about much of anything of the financial affairs of the football federation, including where over $100 million in public and private sector money has disappeared to.
According to Camps, the former president of more than ten years, and Groden, who is still the substantive general secretary of the TTFF, Warner was the man in charge.
The two, in affidavits given to a Case Management Conference, said the federation’s special adviser Warner managed the accounts and at all material times had control and possession of all of the Federation’s financial records and information.
Warner was also an authorised signatory to TTFF’s bank accounts and had exclusive control of the agent company, LOC Germany 2006, which was used as a conduit to move tens of millions of sponsorship money from the Federation’s bank accounts.
The agent company was a Warner-Rampersad creation. (Express)