Global soccer figures indicted

Former National Security Minister Jack Warner.
AP Photo/Shirley Bahadur,file
AP Photo/Shirley Bahadur,file

Trinidad and Tobago Member of Parliament (MP) and Leader of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) Jack Warner, has been named among several powerful global soccer figures facing charges of corruption, racketeering and money laundering.

He is facing extradition proceedings to the United States to face the charges.

Warner is a former minister of works and national security minister in the ruling People’s Partnership (PP) government. He also acted as prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

Warner, who was vice-president of FIFA, the world soccer governing body and former president of The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) resigned from FIFA in 2011, at which time FIFA had terminated its investigations of him into allegations of bribes and kickbacks in exchange for media deals associated with major soccer tournaments.

A statement for the U.S Justice Department said that Warner and Jeffrey Webb — the former and current and president of CONCACAF, the continental confederation under FIFA headquarters in the United States — are among the soccer officials charged with racketeering and bribery offences.

In addition to senior officials, the indictment also named sports-marketing executives from the United States and South America who are accused of paying more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for media deals associated with major soccer tournaments.

The officials are Warner, Jeffrey Webb, Eduardo Li, Eugenio Figueredo, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Rafael Esquvel, Jose marin Marin and Nicholas Leoz.

The indictment alleges that, between l991 and the present, the defendants and their co-conspirators corrupted the enterprise by engaging in various criminal activities, including fraud, bribery and money laundering. Two generations of soccer officials abused their positions of trust for personal gain, frequently through an alliance with unscrupulous sports marketing executives who shut out competitors and kept highly lucrative contractors for themselves through the systematic payment of bribes and kickbacks.

According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the soccer officials are charged with conspiring to solicit and receive well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for their official support of the sports marketing executives who agreed to make the unlawful payments.

The indictment relates to bribes and kickbacks involving the FIFA World CUP qualifiers in the CONCACAF region, the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the CONCACAF Champions League, among other events.

“Other alleged schemes relate to the payment and receipt of bribes and kickbacks in connection with the sponsorship of CBF by a major U.S sportswear company, the selection of the host country for the 2010 World Cup and the 2011 FIFA presidential candidate”, the DOJ said in a statement.

Two of Warner’s sons, Daryl and Darian Warner were identified among those who pleaded guilty, in July and October 2013 respectively, to wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and the structuring of financial transactions.”

“Daryan Warner forfeited over $1.1 million around the time of his plea and has agreed to pay a second forfeiture money judgment at the time of sentencing,’ the statement said.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in 2013 advised President Anthony Carmona to revoke Warner’s (Jack) ministerial appointment as minister of national security.

The prime minister took the decision based on a report by the Chairman of the CONCACAF Integrity Commission, Sir David Simmons, former chief justice of Barbados, which revealed a detailed report into allegations of financial mismanagement by Warner and Blazer.

Former CONCACAF general secretary and a former FIFA executive committee member Charles “Chuck” Blazer, another defendant named by the DOJ, “waived indictment and pleaded guilty to a 10-count indictment charging him with racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, income tax evasion and failure to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts.

Former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner.
Associated Press / Luis M. Alvarez

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