Warner’s Last Promised FIFA Evidence Avalanche Didn’t ComeTariq Panja
Four years ago, Jack Warner promised a tsunami of revelations about FIFA corruption. Last month, the former FIFA vice president vowed an avalanche -- documents linking the sport’s governing body and its president to payments to the Caribbean.
Yet when given the chance to divulge such evidence, he said in 2013 he didn’t have any. Warner told a corruption investigation that he had ended all ties with the sport and Concacaf, the regional soccer body he ran for 21 years.
“Having done so, I have no documents or records in any form in my possession or otherwise which allow me to respond to the matters contained in your letter,” Warner wrote to judge David Simmons, who was leading an internal inquiry for Concacaf into malpractice, mismanagement and corruption. Simmons asked for “any and all” documents relating to Warner’s reign.
Warner is one of the highest-profile members among a group of soccer officials and sports business executives indicted by the U.S. last month in a sprawling corruption case that outlines bribery and kickback schemes dating back more than two decades. The case rocked FIFA, leading President Sepp Blatter to announce he’d step down only days after winning a fifth term.
Facing extradition to the U.S., Warner, 72, last week posted a rambling video saying he had placed files with attorneys in multiple countries that contain details that compromise Blatter.
Asked to elaborate on those allegations, Warner responded in an e-mail: “If and when I decide to disseminate any further information you will be advised.”
Warner’s inconsistent behavior was also evident on Thursday when he left jail in an ambulance complaining of exhaustion before recovering hours later to lead a political rally where he danced enthusiastically.
Warner, a former history teacher, quit FIFA in the middle of an investigation into the role he played in a 2011 meeting where envelopes stuffed with cash were handed out to Caribbean delegates ahead of the soccer body’s presidential elections. The U.S. says the payments were bribes. Warner made his first threat against FIFA and Blatter a few days before his resignation.
“In the next couple days you will see a football tsunami that will hit FIFA and the world that will shock you,” Warner said in May 2011. “The time has come when I must stop playing dead so you’ll see it, it’s coming.”
Very little happened since those words were spoken. He did reveal an e-mail in 2011 that embarrassed Blatter’s chief lieutenant Jerome Valcke and told FIFA investigators that he’d called Blatter to inform him that cash would be disbursed at the Caribbean meeting. Those revelations inflicted little damage on the FIFA hierarchy, with Blatter being cleared by an internal ethics investigation.
Four years after the promised “tsunami,” Warner addressed supporters of his political party in Trinidad, telling them: “Not even death will stop the avalanche that is coming.”
Warner has been charged with crimes including racketeering, bribery, wire fraud and money laundering related to the awarding of World Cup hosting rights and television and sponsorship contracts related to regional competitions. He denies all the allegations.
Chuck Blazer, for years Warner’s No. 2, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the investigation. The politician’s sons, Daryan and Daryll Warner, have already pleaded guilty to charges related to the case and are working with authorities.
Warner should surrender and release any information that could help his case, Trinidad and Tobago Justice Minister Prakash Ramadhar said Sunday. It could be a long time before the U.S. manages to secure Warner’s extradition, Ramadhar said.
“Some lawyers have an unlimited ability for stretching things out, so it can go on for a very extended period of time,” he said.
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