PORT OF SPAIN: Jack Warner’s extradition case has been adjourned further in Port of Spain with the likelihood that he and his legal team will fight all the way to stay out of the hands of the United States Department of Justice.
Warner, Trinidadian former president of CONCACAF and FIFA vice-president, was among the 14 football directors and marketing executives indicted in late May on corruption charges. Seven were arrested and detained in Zurich two days before the world football federation’s annual congress which saw Sepp Blatter re-elected for a fifth term as president.
Police in Trinidad were subsequently served with USDoJ notice to detain Warner pending an extradition application. He was released initially on $2.5m bail plus passport surrender. Evidential documentation had yet to be submitted and thus, after the latest hearing, the case has been adjourned until July 27.
Warner, a former government minister, has hired British Queen’s Counsel Edward Fitzgerald, who led the legal team which challenged for the best part of a decade a US extradition application for businessmen Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson.
The 14 football officials indicted face a total of 47 charges alleging involvement in the soliciting and collecting of bribes for media and marketing rights to major international tournaments.
Initial FBI interest was sparked by financial revelations after a fall-out between Warner and his former CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer. From allegations of tax evasion the investigation has widened to focus on widespread football finance corruption including the awards of several World Cups.
Already Warner’s two sons have already pleaded guilty to a string of charges in return for admissions about the misuse of funds.
Denial and threats
Warner, 72, has been accused of 12 charges related to fraud, racketeering and for engaging in illegal wire transfers. The offences are alleged to have taken place in the United States, Trinidad and Tobago and other jurisdictions between 1990 and June 2011 – when Warner quit football rather than contest disciplinary charges.
He has always denied any wrongdoing and threatened repeatedly to unleash a tsunami or then avalanche of incriminating documents about FIFA business.
Warner was succeeded as president of CONCACAF by Cayman Islands banker Jeffrey Webb who was a former associate. Webb, one of the 14 men detained in Zurich, faces not only US charges but an arrest warrant from back home.
He has been charged in a healthcare fraud case which last year saw
Canover Watson, also a football official in the Cayman Islands and the Caribbean Football Union, arrested on five charges including fraud and money-laundering.
Local reports claim court documents have indicated that Webb, at one time, had been a director of a Cayman Islands company controlled by Warner.
** CONCACAF has cancelled its marketing contracts with Traffic Sports USA which had managed TV and marketing rights for a number of its competition. The company has pleaded guilty to charges in the FIFAgate case.