Trinidad and Tobago National Security Chief Jack Warner resigns over scathing report - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Trinidad and Tobago National Security Chief Jack Warner resigns over scathing report

Trinidad and Tobago’s National Security Minister Austin Jack Warner has called it quits.

In what can be described as a “Jack shocker”, Trinidad and Tobago’s National Security Minister Warner, 70, resigned his powerful portfolio of National Security Minister on Sunday, April 21.

Head of the Cabinet, Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar returned to the country from the United States last Saturday to a damning report released Friday from the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) on her National Security Minister, a report that labeled Warner “a white-collar thief.”

Shortly after accepting his resignation, the Prime Minister issued a media release: “I have today accepted the offer of resignation from the Minister of National Security, Mr. Jack Warner from the Cabinet of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.”

Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar thanked Warner for his service to the people of Trinidad and Tobago and advised President Anthony Carmona to revoke his appointment.

“I have advised His Excellency President Anthony Carmona to revoke the appointment of Mr. Warner and to appoint Senator the Honourable Mr. Emmanuel George as Minister of National Security”.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar and former National Security Minister Jack Warner. (Photo by Marcia Braveboy)

San Fernando Business woman Daphne Bartlett and former National Security Minister Jack Warner.
(Photo by Marcia Braveboy)

That CONCACAF Report

Former CONCACAF bosses Warner and Chuck Blazer are named, blamed and shamed for impropriety in their running of CONCACAF in the scathing report by a CONCACAF-FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) appointed committee.

Both Warner and Blazer say the report is untrue.

“I have recounted a sad and sorry tale in the life of CONCACAF, a tale of abuse of position and power, by persons who assisted in bringing the organization to profitability but who enriched themselves at the expense of their very own organizations,” said Sir David Simmons, the man hired by FIFA to Chair the CONCACAF Integrity Committee that was assigned to review matters pertaining to the previous administration of the football body.

The 113-page report blasted former CONCACAF leaders Warner and  Blazer as frauds.

The juggernaut came down on Warner and Blazer on Page 101 – 7.1 in the report. It asserts that “the record leaves no doubt that Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer did much to promote and develop the sport of football both in the CONCACAF region and globally over a period of more than two decades. Each man deserves considerable credit for his contributions to the advancement of football. Nevertheless, it is equally apparent that Warner and Blazer, together and individually, used their official positions to promote their own self-interests, and frequently acted with disregard for the interests of the CONCACAF member associations and with disdain for the rules that governed their conduct.”

A point of major contention is the CONCACAF headquarters; the Centre of Excellence (COE) located at Macoya Trinidad. The multi-million dollar structure was thought to be owned by world football governing body FIFA, but was in fact built on lands owned by Warner’s businesses; leaving FIFA in a predicament where it cannot really say that it owns the center of excellence.

“Warner committed fraud in two ways. First, Warner secured funds from CONCACAF and FIFA by falsely representing, and intentionally creating a false impression that the COE was owned by CONCACAF when he knew that his own companies in fact owned the property,” according to the report.  “Second, Warner induced FIFA to transfer funds that were intended for development of the COE to himself personally by falsely representing that the bank accounts to which FIFA should send the funds were CONCACAF accounts when he knew that in fact he controlled them personally.”

The report also claims Warner accepted money intended for FIFA that landed into his personal bank accounts.

“Warner made false statements to induce FIFA to send funds to bank accounts that he controlled personally when FIFA clearly believed that the funds were being transferred to CONCACAF accounts for the development of the COE. In 1998, when Warner secured a $6 million loan from FIFA on behalf of CONCACAF, he sent to FIFA a letter provided to him by First Citizens Bank Limited (“First Citizens”) in Trinidad and Tobago identifying a U.S. dollar savings account, “IN NAME OF CONFEDERATION OF NORTH, CENTRAL AMERICAN & CARIBBEAN ASSOCIATION.”

Warner stated that he was sending the account number to FIFA in response to FIFA’s request for “CONCACAF . . . to submit an account number where the money is to be transferred.”

Warner requested that FIFA transfer the loan proceeds to the account. The funds were subsequently sent. Evidence obtained by the Integrity Committee indicates that, more recently, the same bank account was listed under the name “Dr. Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence,” the same name as the partnership in Trinidad and Tobago, comprised among Warner and his companies, that he previously registered in the name “C.O.N.C.A.C.A.F. Centre of Excellence” as explained in 7.15 of the report.

Section 7.5 of the report concludes CONCACAF and FIFA are the victims in this case.

“Warner’s conduct was primarily directed at securing funds and a loan guarantee from FIFA, and Warner succeeded in obtaining such funds and guarantee through fraud,” the report said. “Warner’s fraudulent conduct also deprived CONCACAF of the financial assistance that FIFA provided to the organization with the intention of supporting CONCACAF’s efforts to develop football in the region. Allocation of these funds to the COE required CONCACAF’s approval, which Warner obtained through fraud. CONCACAF was also fraudulently induced to undertake obligations to repay funds that Warner obtained for the COE in the form of loans to CONCACAF. In the end, as a result of his fraudulent conduct, Warner divested CONCACAF and FIFA of approximately $26 million, and Warner obtained title to the COE property, which rightfully belongs to CONCACAF.”

Warner’s trail of challenges

The call for Warner’s resignation runs a long trail of accusations deep inside the world football governing body FIFA – where he built his name and fame. He also was forced to resign from the world soccer body amid the corruption allegations leveled against him.

Warner resigned as FIFA’s Vice President and CONCACAF President in June 2011 after serving almost thirty years in both posts. In a release, FIFA expressed regret at the resignation.

The former FIFA Vice President’s decision to resign from the world soccer body followed allegations of a $40,000 payment to Caribbean Football Union members at the Hyatt Regency in Trinidad in 2011. It was to help secure votes for Asia’s football soccer head Bin Hammam, who ran against incumbent Sepp Blatter for the FIFA President post. Bin Hammam withdrew from the race for President and was eventually banned by FIFA.

Following the 2006 World Cup in Germany, some of the footballers cried foul on Warner, claiming the former FIFA Vice President owed them millions. Warner said he didn’t,  and claimed he took loans amounting to millions to assist them. That battle remains unresolved.

For many Jack Warner is a hero for what he's done to promote futbal (soccer) from not only Trinidad and Tobago, but the entire Caribbean region. While his resignation may surprise some, the allegations of corruption are not new. (Photo by Marcia Braveboy)

For many Jack Warner is a hero for what he’s done to promote football from not only Trinidad and Tobago, but the entire Caribbean region. While his resignation may surprise some, the allegations of corruption are not new.
(Photo by Marcia Braveboy)

Reactions to Warner’s Resignation

Opposition forces in Trinidad and Tobago demanded the removal or firing of the National Security Chief after the findings of the CONCACAF report headed by David Simmons were made public in Panama last Friday.

In a television interview on CNC3 television in Trinidad, Opposition Leader Keith Rowley said Warner’s resignation was one of relief. He said the former minister’s presence in the cabinet has been one of stress and concern for the people of the country. While he gives Warner the right to still represent his constituents, he does not believe his place is in the cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago – denouncing .Warner’s image as bad for the country.

After years of allegations against the former minister, Rowley said it had become too overwhelming and the Prime Minister did not have a choice but to remove him.

The former FIFA Vice President’s arch nemesis and former Prime Minister and political leader of the United National Congress (UNC) Basdeo Panday exhaled at the news of Warner’s resignation. He said he does not take Warner’s resignation at face value. Chipping away at Warner,  Panday asserted that Warner’s resignation from FIFA was to avoid further investigations of corruption against him (Warner) and said the Minister’s decision to quit the cabinet is for the same reason.

Basdeo Panday is one of the main founding members of the UNC, the leading partner in the present T&T’s People’s Partnership coalition government. He lost hold of the party after Warner with his power and money engulfed the former UNC leader in a campaign that forced him to call internal elections in 2009. Panday lost the election and leadership to now Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar.

Political Leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) David Abdulah who made several calls for Warner to resign said the situation with Warner had become untenable, making it impossible for the former National Security Minister to continue serving in the cabinet. Abdulah said the Minister was pushed. “I do not think he resigned, I believe he was asked to resign,” Abdulah said.

In a media release on Saturday, Warner said: “I left CONCACAF and turned my back on football two years ago. Since then I have had no interest in any football-related matter. CONCACAF’s report today (Friday April 19) is of no concern to me and as far as I am aware it is baseless and malicious.”

 


About the author

Marcia Braveboy

Marcia Braveboy is a journalist from Grenada based in Trinidad and Tobago. She has over 20 years experience in media; mainly in copy writing, news and broadcast journalism. Braveboy was a senior reporter at Power 102 FM radio, CNC3 television and producer of the investigative Frontline program on CCN’s i95.5 FM talk-radio station. You can follow Marcia on Twitter: @mbraveboy Contact the author.
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