PORT-OF-SPAIN – Disgraced former vice-president of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) and MP for Chaguanas West Jack Warner allegedly collected a US$1.2 million bribe from former FIFA presidential candidate and Qatari billionaire Mohamed bin Hammam for arranging the infamous May 2011 cash-for-votes meeting at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) hotel in Port of Spain, according to documents seen by the Express.
Warner has repeatedly denied the bribe-paying allegations of packaged US$40,000 envelope inducements handed out to Caribbean Football Union (CFU) delegates, but US investigators say he was handsomely rewarded for his role in the affair with a US$1.2 million kickback from the former president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and former FIFA presidential candidate.
Documents obtained by the Express show bin Hammam paid a US$1,212,000 wire transfer to a private Warner account held at Intercommercial Bank Ltd, Chaguanas branch, on July 14, 2011, some two months after the failed bribe attempt to influence the 2011 presidential vote in football’s world governing body, FIFA.
According to a US Department of Justice (DOJ) document, the US$1.2 million bribe followed a failed attempt a month earlier by a bin Hammam-owned company, Khalid Electrical and Mechanical Est (Kemco), to route three wire transfer payments totalling US$1.2 million through a US bank to separate accounts controlled by Warner’s indicted sons, Daryan and Daryll, and his personal assistant.
The June 2011 scheme collapsed after the transaction was red-flagged by a US bank which requested further information relating to the “purpose of the transfers”, according to the DOJ document.
E-mail correspondence, bank records, witness testimony and other documents, said the DOJ, revealed that after the initial attempt to wire the money failed, Warner’s personal assistant e-mailed bin Hammam’s office with a template suggesting how Kemco should word “the purpose” for the transfer of funds.
“Kemco subsequently sent to the banks letters incorporating the suggested language,” said the DOJ document, adding “notably, each letter provided a different explanation as to the purpose of the proposed transfer. The letter to the bank where the account of Warner’s assistant was held stated that the transfer, in the amount of US$412,000, was intended to offset expenses associated with meetings held in Trinidad and Tobago, Zurich, Switzerland and New York, USA of delegates and officers of the Caribbean.”
The Kemco correspondence advised that the US$412,000 payment represented costs associated with airfare, accommodation, logistics related to meetings, interpretation equipment and services, among other things.
The Kemco explanation for a US$432,000 payment to Daryll Warner’s account was “to offset legal expenses incurred by legal counsel” in Trinidad in an ongoing matter.
The reason provided for the third wire transfer payment in the amount of US$368,000 to Daryan was “to offset legal expenses for foreign lawyers as well as for expenses associated with meetings of delegates and officers of the CFU in the Caribbean”.
But even after receipt of these further explanations, the recipient banks still asked more questions, said the DOJ document, adding that on June 22, 2011, Warner’s assistant advised Kemco to just give the banks a new storyline.
The revised story relating to a contract between the Qatari company and Warner’s two sons and personal assistant based on their so-called “relationship, understanding and history with all the players, regionally and internationally” failed to pass scrutiny and the banks refused to accept the wire transfers.
Unable to obtain the bin Hammam money through his several intermediaries, Warner accepted a direct payment to his private Intercommercial Bank account one month later on July 14, 2011, according to the DOJ document.
The money was wired from a Kemco corporate account at a Doha Bank in Qatar through Wells Fargo Bank NA to Intercommercial Branch at 111 Wall Street, New York. The actual transfer amount flowing from the wealthy Gulf state was for US$1,211,980, but the currency adjustment saw a figure of US$1,211,000.
The DOJ document said prosecutors involved in the FIFA corruption investigation believe that: “Warner first attempted to have these funds wired through intermediaries to avoid detection. When that failed, the funds were transferred directly from Kemco to Warner.”
Investigators pointed to:
1. Warner’s efforts to conceal the transfer of funds;
2. The inconsistent explanations provided for the payments;
3. The absence of any known legitimate business relationship between Kemco and Warner.
The DOJ document stated: “The funds appear to be monies paid by bin Hammam to Warner in connection with his assistance in facilitating the bribery of the CFU officials who attended the May 2011 meeting and for his continuing support thereafter when the bribery scheme was uncovered.”
US investigators found that prior to the transfer of funds to Warner’s Intercommercial Bank account in Trinidad, bin Hammam attempted to transfer the funds to Warner’s Cayman account at Fidelity Bank in the name of J&D International. The bank where Warner’s former pal and indicted Concacaf (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) president Jeffrey Webb was a consultant refused to accept the Kemco wire transfer.
Prosecutors surmised that: “Warner, by means of an international wire transfer that travelled through the United States, received payments in Intercommercial Bank account 373498-0401 connected to a bribery scheme, in violation of his duties to FIFA, CONCACAF and the CFU, and thus used that account to commit and facilitate the commission of honest-services wire fraud.
“The wire transfer, as well as the attempted transfers that preceded it, also constitutes money laundering, as it and the prior transfers were designed to promote and conceal the fraud.”
The source of funds declaration, signed by Warner, said the bin Hammam payment was for: “professional advisory services”.
A supporting letter from bin Hammam’s private company, dated July 14, 2011, said: “This is to advise that monies in the amount of US$1,2 million was wire transferred to Mr Jack Warner by Kemco to offset professional services provided over the period 2005-2010.” The address he provided for Kemco was PO Box 2642, Doha, Qatar.
At a time when a players court dispute threatened to make him a party to the proceedings, Warner is said to have used US$778,774.30 of the bribe payment from bin Hammam to settle an outstanding debt to the Soca Warriors.
The US document cited the six-figure payment made to the Registrar of the Supreme Court. He also provided a US$200,000 payment to Daryan for ‘’child support’’.
As reported in a special Warner series published in this newspaper, bin Hammam also made a US$250,000 payment to Warner in 2008 and provided a US$363,537.98 wire transfer payment to a Republic Bank CFU account controlled by the ex-regional football jefe in April 2011 to take care of the associated costs related with arranging the infamous Hyatt meeting in Port of Spain.