NEW YORK – Former international football strongman, Trinidadian Jack Warner, has again found himself at the centre of corruption charges after being implicated in another elaborate million-dollar scheme in a 53-count indictment unsealed Monday in the US District Court in Brooklyn.
The 77-year-old Warner, once a powerful vice-president of football’s world governing body, FIFA, and a perennial head of continental governing body, CONCACAF, and Caribbean umbrella organisation, the CFU, has been accused of receiving up to US$5 million in bribes in relation to World Cup voting and the sale of media and broadcast rights.
His charges include wire fraud, money laundering and racketeering, with prosecutors alleging crimes to have taken place between 1998 and 2011.
The indictment alleged that Warner “together with others, conspired to use their positions to engage in schemes involving the solicitation, offer, acceptance, payment and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments, bribes and kickbacks”.
“Although the defendants and their co-conspirators also helped pursue the principal purpose of the enterprise, the defendants and their co-conspirators corrupted the enterprise by engaging in various criminal activities, including fraud, bribery and money laundering, in pursuit of personal and commercial gain.
“The conspirators also participated in the corruption of the enterprise by conspiring with and aiding and abetting their co-conspirators in the abuse of their positions of trust and the violation of their fiduciary duties,” the indictment added.
Prosecutors also alleged that Warner, while CFU president and acting as a special advisor to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association, solicited bribes for the “award and execution of the contracts for the rights to the CFU World Cup qualifier matches”, relating to the 2006 showpiece in Germany.
Further, the indictment contends that Warner received kickbacks from helping South Africa land the continent’s first ever World Cup in 2010, and for helping Russia win the bid to host the 2018 showpiece.
Warner is among several former football officials and media executives charged by the US Department of Justice, sparking yet another scandal in the global football community.
Former Brazil federation president, Ricardo Teixeira, and Guatemala football chief, Rafael Salguero, are also among those implicated.
“Over a period of more than 20 years, the defendants and their co-conspirators corrupted the enterprise through, among other things, the solicitation, payment and receipt of bribes and kickbacks in connection with the sale of media and marketing rights to various soccer tournaments and events,” prosecutors alleged.
Warner, a former Cabinet minister in Trinidad and Tobago, resigned from FIFA, CONCACAF and CFU at the height of the infamous cash-for-votes scandal in 2011, which alleged that he and former FIFA presidential candidate Mohammed bin Hammam offered bribes to CFU countries in exchange for votes at the upcoming FIFA election.
He was named in a similar US Department of Justice indictment in 2015, also charged with wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering, but has so far successfully avoided extradition to face those charges.
Also in 2015, Warner was slapped with a lifelong ban by FIFA for “many and various acts of misconduct”.
Warner was bullish when questioned about the new charges by the media in his homeland yesterday. He described the development as “stupidness”.
“You really want me to answer that stupidness? I have no comment to make on that. That is still news?” he asked.
Asked if he wished to refute or deny the allegations, Warner replied: “If allyuh want to be messengers for the US, go ahead. I have no problem with that.”
Warner further indicated that he was “not interested in that”, when asked if he would be prepared to fight the legal battle.