Works Minister and ex-FIFA Vice President Jack Warner will allegedly test the patience and temperament of High Court Judge Devindra Rampersad by claiming ignorance of all Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) financial matters in the Germany 2006 World Cup bonus dispute between 13 past and present national players, the TTFF and its former President Oliver Camps.
Warner disregarded a 10 February 2012 deadline by Justice Rampersad to file and serve written accounts of all income, donations, gifts, grants or benefits whatsoever and all expenditure arising from the World Cup. His accounting statement should have been the key item for debate when the three parties meet tomorrow in a Port of Spain court room.
However, a TTFF insider informed Wired868.com that Warner delivered a letter to its office on the evening of 9 February 2012, which suggested that the Chaguanas West MP had no knowledge of the requested accounting data.
His letter, according to the source, claimed that he handed over all relevant information to the local football body when he resigned last June.
Warner’s stance is said to be unnerving the TTFF. The football body had all its removable assets seized on 8 February 2012 after failing to make an interim award of $4.6 million (US$724,000).
Warner was still TTFF special advisor when the “Soca Warriors” received their only payment to date—an interim payment of $7,040,000 (US$1.1 million). The money was paid to the players last May; just days after Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Mohamed Bin Hammam visited Trinidad to garner support for his FIFA Presidential election bid.
The 13 World Cup players are Kenwyne Jones, Shaka Hislop, Stern John, Brent Sancho, Kelvin Jack, Collin Samuel, Avery John, Aurtis Whitley, Cyd Gray, Cornell Glen, David Atiba Charles, Evans Wise and Anthony Wolfe.
A month later, FIFA expelled Bin Hammam for bribing Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials at the controversial meeting in Port of Spain and Warner quit all football posts on 20 June 2011 while FIFA was investigating his role in the bribery scandal.
Warner’s new denial regarding the bonus dispute, if confirmed, contradicts previous affidavits from himself and ex-TTFF President Oliver Camps. He also runs the risk of vexing Justice Rampersad, who declined the option of joining Warner to the case after accepting his word that he would deliver the vital documents.
On 24 August 2011, two months after Warner quit all football posts, Camps told the High Court that the TTFF was still in the dark about all financial matters that involved its special advisor, which included over $173 million in funding from the public and private sector.
Camps, who also quit FIFA last year while being investigated by the governing body, stated in an affidavit that:
“In respect of accounts and supplemental accounts for LOC Germany I have had no information or records for this company as this was a company/organization under the control of special advisor Mr Jack Warner.
“The executive and I have made repeated requests for Mr Warner to provide accounts for LOC Germany and to provide a full account of monies of the claimant’s participation in the 2006 World Cup…”
On the basis of Camps’ affidavit, the claimants’ attorney Dave De Peiza filed on 7 September 2011 to have Warner joined to the case to “provide an account and disclosure of accounts.”
Warner retorted by agreeing to supply the relevant information in a 17 October 2011 affidavit, which stated he was “prepared to provide to (the TTFF) the information or documentation relevant to the taking of the account between it and the claimants.”
Justice Rampersad noted the players’ dissatisfaction with Warner’s promise and also chided the Works Minister for his tardiness in agreeing to submit the documents.
“What is perplexing about (Warner’s) indication, while it is welcomed,” said Justice Rampersad, on 12 January 2012, “is why did it take an application such as this to have such a commitment put on the record; especially when it ought to have been known that the accounts were being called for?”
Despite his expressed concerns about the state of the case and the behavior of the defendants, Justice Rampersad took Warner at his word.
“It is this court’s view at this time that it is not satisfied that, in the circumstances mentioned at present, that it is necessary to add Mr Warner,” said the Judge.
It appears Warner has now reversed that position and is attempting to blame the TTFF for the missing accounting statements.
The Works Minister’s pronouncements have grown increasingly erratic in recent times.
In a radio interview with I95.5 on 10 February 2012, Warner defied Sports Dispute Resolution Panel (SDRP) arbitrator Ian Mill QC and Justice Rampersad by saying they were wrong to rule on behalf of the players.
Warner further contradicted a body of evidence including previous statements from himself and the TTFF by claiming that he offered the “Soca Warriors” a 30 percent share of profits during a moment of euphoria at the 2006 World Cup.
The players were awarded 50 percent of all World Cup revenue by the London-based SDRP in 2008 and the decision was upheld, two years later, by the local High Court.
The High Court, it appears, has another big decision to make tomorrow.