- Ex-FIFA VP accused of using soccer funds to develop his land
- Suit brought by Americas organization Warner led for 20 years
Jack Warner, once one of the most powerful men in global soccer, is being sued for more than $50 million by the sport’s regional body in North and Central America.
It is the latest legal action against the man who for 20 years led the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, the 41-nation group known as Concacaf. He is also facing corruption charges in the U.S. and remains in Trinidad where he is fighting extradition. He has in the past denied any wrongdoing.
The new suit centers around a lavish soccer facility that was built in Trinidad with millions of dollars in funding from FIFA, where Warner served on the executive committee. After Warner resigned his Concacaf leadership in 2011, the organization discovered that the facility had been built on land that belonged to Warner -- his successor, Jeffrey Webb, said in 2012 that he was "shell-shocked, dismayed and upset" -- and its ownership has been in dispute ever since. Webb is also among a group of 40 people that have so far been charged in the U.S. case.
The former soccer leader fraudulently secured FIFA and Concacaf funding to develop the property, the suit alleges. The site now includes a hotel and banqueting facilities. Warner initially denied owning the property, according to the complaint, then said it had been a gift to him by a former FIFA president.
Warner didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment. Warner’s wife, his accountant and two companies linked to the 73-year-old are also named as defendants.
Years at the highest levels of soccer governance made Warner a wealthy man, and he used his money and status to embark on a successful political career, briefly serving as Trinidad’s deputy prime minister. Warner in June 2015 was held in prison in Trinidad for a short time after an arrest warrant was issued relating to the U.S. charges. He left the jail in ambulance before leading a political rally hours later where he danced enthusiastically.
FIFA in September banned Warner from soccer, accusing him of "being a key player in schemes involving the offer, acceptance, and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments, as well as other money-making schemes."
Concacaf has suffered in the wake of the U.S. probe. Its last four presidents have been forced from office amid claims of wrongdoing, with three charged by the U.S. Department of Justice. Last week it elected Canada’s Victor Montagliani as its latest leader and is poised to name a new general secretary as soon as next week.