By Gerald V. Paul
Before former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner was arrested and facing extradition in Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday, he posted on Twitter that he is innocent of charges stemming from a U.S. indictment, part of a massive sweep of the association’s top people.
Warner, a political force to be reckoned with in Trinidad and Tobago, is among nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives indicted in New York, said, “I have walked away from the politics of world football.
“I sleep very soundly in the night.”
The Associated Press reported that T&T officials said an arrest warrant was issued for Warner.
Other defendants include two sports marketing companies, sports marketing executives, and soccer officials from FIFA-controlled entities in the Caribbean, South America and Central America.
According to documents presented by the U.S. Justice Department, FIFA officials allegedly received envelopes packed with tens of thousands of dollars in cash and demanded bribes in exchange for issuing contracts and other favours.
Some of the defendants arranged multi-million-dollar wire transfers from accounts of the accused sports executives’ corporations to soccer groups in exchange for programming contracts, the documents allege.
The documents portray Warner as a key figure in the case. It said Warner set up and controlled numerous bank accounts in Trinidad and Tobago and elsewhere and mingled his personal funds with those of FIFA-controlled bodies.
“Among the other things, Warner began to solicit and accept bribes in connection with his official duties, including the election of the host nation for the World Cups held in 1998 and 2010, which he participated in as a member of the FIFA executive committee,” the indictment said.
A statement from Trinidad and Tobago Attorney-General Garvin Nicholas said officials there received an extradition request for Warner from the U.S. authorities.
Daryll Warner, son of Jack Warner and a former FIFA development officer, pleaded guilty in July 2013 to a two-count information charging him with wire fraud and the structuring of financial transactions.
On Oct. 25, 2013, Daryan Warner, another son, pleaded guilty to a three-count information charging him with wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and the structuring of financial transactions.