Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said she decided to accept the resignation of controversial former National Security Minister Jack Warner after speaking with the U.S. State Department about a federal probe into his international financial dealings while he was a top world soccer executive during a recent trip to the U.S. capital.
Warner, 69, who until this week considered the second most powerful person in the Trinidad and Tobago government after the prime minister, quit his cabinet position and that of chairman of the ruling United National Congress (UNC) in disgrace less than a week after an international investigatory team released a damning report pointing to the alleged siphoning off of millions of dollars into private Warner family companies when he was a vice-president of the world soccer body, FIFA.
Warner who will now become a governing party parliamentary backbencher, said this week he will give a full account of his dealings to the assembly when it meets on Friday and to his political constituency of Chaguanas a day before.
His departure from government was welcomed across the political divide and the business community in Trinidad as even the prime minister said that government was glad to see the back of him, as daily media reports about his financial dealings and the political fallout from such had become too tough a political cross the bear.
“After a careful, meticulous review of the facts brought before me, having just returned, you will remember I was in Washington and I met with the State Department, and having come back from that visit and meeting with my colleagues, counter-balancing the interest of the Cabinet and having considered all of this I accepted the resignation of Minister Warner as Minister of National Security,” Persad-Bissessar said.
The fact that the issue was raised with the Obama administration appears to lend credence to local and international media reports that Warner is being investigated by the FBI and that his two older sons who are in Florida are also under federal probe and are cooperating with agents about their family’s business connections with international finance connected to FIFA activities over decades.
The former works and transport minister and leading UNC financier, has hardly traveled out of Trinidad since he was forced to resign from FIFA two years ago apparently for fear of arrest by Interpol or U.S. agents.
Warner’s His downfall was triggered and hastened by the cash for votes deal that exploded in his face at home in Trinidad when he hosted then Asian soccer chief Mohamed bin Hammam in Port of Spain at a special regional congress where Hammam was known to have doled out brown envelopes with $40,000 each to help them vote for him for the top FIFA position.
During recent UNC internal elections, Warner pulled in more than 16,000 votes, sealing his place as the UNC boss and reiterating perceptions that he is one of the island’s most popular but not necessarily now, most respected politicians.
How he will bounce back from his most recent humiliation and whether he will face time in a jail overseas is left to be seen, but for now the nation is awaiting words from his mouth as to the history of his financial dealings.
Meanwhile Trinidadians expect “fireworks” in Parliament Friday, as Warner faces questions from opposition parliamentartians, according to one local news source.