PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Friday May 29, 2015 – Just hours after being released from jail yesterday, Jack Warner attended a meeting of his Independent Liberal Party (ILP) where he accused government of trying to get rid of him and warned Prime MInister Kamla Persad-Bissessar that his “gloves were off” and he intended to reveal everything he has on her.
And while Persad-Bissessar said she received no money for either internal party elections or general elections from Warner when he was a member of her United National Congress (UNC), the 72-year-old politician – who is facing corruption charges related to his 15 years as vice-president of football’s world governing body, FIFA – has insisted she is not telling the truth.
Warner threw down the gauntlet last night at a meeting in Chaguanas, after ending a 24-hour stay behind bars.
While he was granted TT$2.5 million (US$394,601) bail on Wednesday when he appeared before a magistrate in relation to a United States request to extradite him to face the charges, Warner was unable to leave the prison because the the deed he supplied to cover his bail was not approved. However, that was resolved yesterday and he was released in the evening.
Former FIFA vice president Jack Warner leaves jail in ambulance, Trinidad official says: http://t.co/i7kRUYcmTx
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 28, 2015
Last night, Warner accused the government – and Persad-Bissessar in particular – of having a hand in his imprisonment.
“Kamla having jailed me, as of tonight the gloves are off!” he declared. “Everything I have against Kamla I will bring it out. I have kept it back too long and I will bring it out.”
Warner told supporters that he felt his life was under threat and he would therefore give video tapes with information to four lawyers.
“I will give one to a PNM [People’s National Movement] lawyer, one to a ILP lawyer, one to a MSJ [Movement for Social Justice] lawyer and one to my lawyer. They believe they could walk all over me because I have remained silent, but Jack is alive and kicking,” he said.
Responding to questions from the media after the opening of a new police station earlier in the day, Persad-Bissessar insisted she got absolutely no campaign funding from Warner.
But he was adamant: “Kamla said I never helped her financially but that is a lie.”
Warner, who served as president of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) and president of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) and as the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation’s special adviser, is among 14 people charged with with racketeering, bribery, wire fraud and money laundering, stemming from a scheme, dating back 24 years, that involved $150 million in bribes and kickbacks being paid to obtain lucrative media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments.
Another Caribbean football official – Jeffrey Webb, who is current FIFA vice president and executive committee member, CONCACAF president, CFU executive committee member and Cayman Islands Football Association president – is also facing charges. He was arrested along with six other defendants on Wednesday morning in Zurich.
In all, nine of the defendants are current or past FIFA officials, four were sports marketing executives and one was in the broadcasting business and allegedly served as an intermediary to facilitate illicit payments between sports marketing executives and soccer officials.
Four other defendants, including Warner’s two sons Daryll and Daryan, and former FIFA general secretary Chuck Blazer, pleaded guilty when they were charged in 2013.
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) May 29, 2015
The eight charges against Warner are:
One (1) count of conspiracy to knowingly agree to conduct or participate in racketeering activity, relating to wire fraud and other offences, which either engages in or affects interstate or foreign commerce;
Two (2) counts of conspiracy to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, including for the intangible right of honest services, using wire, radio, or television communications to execute such scheme or artifice;
Two (2) counts of devising any scheme or artifice to defraud, using wire, radio, or television communications to execute such scheme or artifice;
Two (2) counts of conspiring to transport, transmit and transfer monetary instruments and funds from places inside the United States to and through places outside the United States and to places in the United States from and through places outside the United States, with the intent to promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity;
One (1) count of transporting, transmitting and transferring monetary instruments and funds from places inside the United States to and through places outside the United States and to places in the United States from and through places outside the United States, with the intent to promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity.
But Warner has insisted that he is innocent.
“If I have been thieving Fifa money for 30 years, who gave me the money? How come he is not charged? Why only persons from Third World countries have been charged?”
Warner asked at the meeting. His ILP has questioned the timing of his indictment, coming just two days before FIFA elections which are scheduled for today, and ahead of voters going to the poll in Trinidad and Tobago – a date for which has not yet been announced.
Last night, Warner pointed fingers directly at Attorney General Garvin Nicholas, saying that he signed the extradition order with haste.
“He signed to send his countryman to the USA in chains. If Nicholas had his way I wouldn’t be here at all. Get rid of Rowley. Get rid of Warner, then call elections,” he told supporters, referring to the suspension of Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley from Parliament earlier this month.
However, Nicholas told the Trinidad Express that it would be “absurd in the highest to believe that Trinidad and Tobago is dictating that timetable”.
“You would well appreciate that Trinidad and Tobago cannot control the timing of an international investigation . . . when the authorities of Switzerland, the United States and the United Kingdom would choose to act on an investigation into an international sporting body like FIFA,” he told the newspaper.