Warner accused of collecting Bin Hammam bribe

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Add fraud to the numerous allegations—many of them substantiated—made against Jack Warner, Minister of Works and Infrastructure and ex-FIFA Vice President, over the years.

Accusations of corruption against Warner are nothing new. But the identity of Warner’s latest accuser might raise fresh questions about the Chaguanas West MP’s behavior during and after the visit of former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Mohamed Bin Hammam.

Current Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) General Secretary Richard Groden claimed, in an affidavit for FIFA which was leaked exclusively to Wired868, that Warner put US$40,000 (TT$243,200)—supposedly meant for the benefit of local football—into a drawer in his MP’s office. The money, which was given by Bin Hammam, was declared by FIFA to be a bribe.

The affidavit was leaked to Wired868 last month by a source within the football fraternity. But it can only now be revealed after the sender consented to it being published.

Groden, who was also charged by FIFA for his behavior on 11 August 2011 but let off with a warning on 14 October 2011, said he never heard anything about the cash-stuffed envelope since.

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Bin Hammam was expelled from FIFA on 23 July 2011 for bribing Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials to influence their vote for the 1 June 2011 presidential election, in which he was a candidate. Sepp Blatter was subsequently returned unopposed as president.

Warner was provisionally suspended along with Bin Hammam on 29 May 2011 and the Trinidadian resigned from all football posts, on 20 June 2011. As a result, the FIFA Ethics Committee closed all proceedings against the former CONCACAF and CFU President and TTFF Special Advisor.

Home sweet home
Photo: Former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam (left) and suspended CFU administrator Jason Sylvester at the Trinidad HYATT in 2011.

However, Groden told FIFA investigators on 1 September 2011 that Warner, in collusion with ex-TTFF President Oliver Camps, sent two letters to Zurich purporting to be legitimate correspondence from the local football body. The TTFF General Secretary offered proof that the letters did not originate from his office.

He claimed too that Camps asked him more than once to deceive FIFA on details surrounding Bin Hammam’s cash payments to CFU officials.

Groden said Warner aided and abetted Bin Hammam at the Hyatt Hotel on 10 May 2011.

Groden said that he too had lied to FIFA. The TTFF General Secretary admitted that, in a previous supplemental affirmation on 14 June 2011, he gave incorrect information in the presence of his legal counsel Colin Henry.

On 1 September 2011, Groden had a change of heart and addressed FIFA investigators in Zurich; a month before his scheduled disciplinary hearing.

He orally waived his right to legal counsel and executed an affidavit of “his own free will (…) to provide a correct and accurate recitation of facts about events that occurred during a special meeting of the CFU that was held in Trinidad and Tobago in May 10-11, 2011.”

Groden told FIFA that Warner, not Bin Hammam, told the delegates to collect the cash. He said CFU Assistant General Secretary Debbie Minguell and Event Coordinator Jason Sylvester handed him the bribe in a foyer of the hotel.

“They handed me an envelope with the words ‘Trinidad and Tobago’ written on it,” stated Groden. “They told me that it contained US$40,000, which was for ‘the development of football in my country’.

“I accepted the envelope and immediately brought it to the offices of the TTFF, where I secured the envelope in a locked drawer.”

An excerpt from Richard Groden’s affidavit to FIFA

Sylvester and Minguell were both suspended by FIFA on 29 May 2011 for all football-related activities for their refusal to cooperate with investigators.

Wired868‘s phone calls to Warner went unanswered while an email to his personal address—which bears the name “dsurvivor2011″—went unanswered.

Groden said that, in the CFU meeting on 11 May 2011, Warner was upset that someone had called CONCACAF and revealed the “gift” and he insisted Blatter already knew about it.

On the same day, Groden claimed to have told Camps about the envelope with cash but was told only that: “we will discuss it later”.

Groden said he was surprised to learn of a letter sent on the TTFF’s behalf, on 26 May 2011, which stated that: “we never received money from anyone…”

He said he called Camps and objected but was told by the former president that he had been asked to write the letter on Warner’s behalf.

Photo: Former TTFF general secretary Richard Groden (left) and Jack Warner's attorney Om Lalla in happier times.
Photo: Former TTFF general secretary Richard Groden (left) and Jack Warner’s attorney Om Lalla in happier times.

On 3 June 2011, another “TTFF letter”, signed by Camps, was sent to Zurich in defence of Warner and Groden said that this too had been done without his knowledge.

Groden attempted to prove to FIFA that the two letters could not have been sent by the TTFF:

“It (was) printed on TTFF letterhead that was outdated by six months as of the date of the letter. Indeed, the letterhead used on the May 26, 2011 letter shows Mr Raymond Tim Kee as a Vice-President of the TTFF.

“Raymond Tim Kee’s term as TTFF Vice-President ended in approximately November 2010. Thereafter, the TTFF changed its letterhead to reflect the current roster of officers.

“It also changed the letterhead to show the TTFF’s centennial logo in the middle of the page.”

Groden provided FIFA with a blank copy of the present TTFF letterhead to verify his story.

“The previous TTFF letterhead would have been destroyed at the TTFF offices around November 2010,” stated Groden. “Mr Warner, however, would have possessed the prior letterhead in his capacity as a Special Advisor to the TTFF.

“The previous TTFF letterhead would have been kept at Mr Warner’s CONCACAF office in Trinidad and Tobago.”

Groden said that, after Warner was suspended on 29 May 2011, he went to the Minister of Works—at his office—with the original envelope containing US$40,000.

Photo: Former National Security Minister, FIFA vice president and Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner.
Photo: Former National Security Minister, FIFA vice president and Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner.

“I had made the decision, on my own initiative, to return the funds to him,” stated Groden. “I brought the original funds, in the original envelope, and gave the money to Mr Warner at his Government office.

“When I did so, Mr Warner simply acknowledged that I had given him the money, without elaborating or asking me any questions.

“The next day or the next, I reported to Mr Camps that I had given the money to Mr Warner. He replied, ‘Praise the Lord’.”

Groden claimed that he was “inhibited” from being honest with FIFA earlier and also accused Camps of repeatedly pressing him to deceive the global football body.

“Prior to my earlier interview in this matter, Camps told me I should ‘stick to the story’ that the TTFF had not received anything on May 10th,” he stated. “Several weeks ago, I received a notice from FIFA General Secretary Jérôme Valcke advising that I should come forward within 48 hours with any advice that I had relative to this matter.

“I discussed Mr Valcke’s email with Mr Camps, who told me that I ‘should stick to the story’. I understood this to be a request by him to claim that the TTFF had not received any money on May 10th.

“When I received notice a few weeks ago that I was to be interviewed again, which is occurring today, I again asked Mr Camps what to do.

“He again said I needed to ‘stick to the story’ that we had not received any money.”

Camps refused comment and claimed ignorance.

“I do not know what you are talking about,” Camps told Wired868, “and I have nothing to say about that matter.”

Photo: Ex-TTFF president Oliver Camps

Wired868 attempted to reach Groden at the TTFF’s office but was told he had left for the Under-23 Olympic qualifiers in the United States. Checks at the under-23 team base revealed he was not there either.

TTFF Press Secretary Shaun Fuentes promised to relay Wired868‘s message to Groden but neither person responded within 48 hours of the request for comment.

On 14 October 2011, FIFA dropped proceedings against Groden and four other CFU officials including Federation of Haitian Football (FHF) President Yves Jean-Bart.

Two weeks later, on 26 October 2011, FIFA opened ethical proceedings against Camps and nine other CFU representatives for possible breaches of its Code of Ethics in relation to the bribery scandal.

Camps resigned as TTFF president a day later and the FIFA charge was dropped.

In his resignation letter, Camps claimed he was saddened at having his name sullied and character denigrated “without a justifiable reason.” He also praised Warner’s “inspired leadership” and called him a loyal friend while he insisted there were no regrets about the CFU meeting.

“History will applaud all the football leaders of the Caribbean,” said Camps. “In conclusion, I want to thank Mr. Jack Warner for his support over the years.

“In him I see a true leader, a true champion, a Caribbean man, one who was prepared to do whatever was required to keep the Caribbean flag flying with dignity and pride.”

Warner returned the tribute.

“There are guys here who want to play politics, Mr Camps was more dignified in his approach and I commend him very highly for that,” Warner told the Trinidad Guardian. “And in the fullness of time everything shall of course be revealed.”

Warner scoffed at calls for police action over his role in the bribery scandal—including whether he used his then portfolio as Transport Minister to get nearly US$1 million (TT$6 million) through customs. He claimed that FIFA would suspend Trinidad and Tobago if any attempt was made to penalise him.

“I have to laugh at this country for true you know,” Warner told the Trinidad Express, “… in FIFA there is a thing that says if government interferes in football business in any country the country is suspended. But here in Trinidad and Tobago the Opposition here wants to interfere in FIFA business.”

Photo: Warner received a heroic return at the Piarco Airport after his FIFA suspension

Warner, who at the time of his statement was no longer a FIFA official, has been warned that the umbrella football body will take action if he ever tries to return to the game.

Wired868 has twice contacted the Police Service’s Public Affairs Unit for updates on its probe into Warner and was asked to submit a request in writing. This online newspaper then emailed requests for information but the Police Service has not so far responded or even acknowledged receipt of the requests.

Wired868 can confirm that, almost a year later, the police are yet to interview anyone from close to a dozen Trinidad and Tobago citizens who were involved in the fateful CFU meeting.

This includes Sylvester, Minguell, Groden, Camps, whistleblower and ex-CFU General Secretary Angenie Kanhai and television presenter Hema Ramkissoon, whose duties were confined to arranging dinner for the delegates.

Wired868 will pass on copies of Groden’s affidavit to the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute and Fixin’ T&T for further relay to the relevant authorities.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Works and Infrastructure continues to relish the “presumption of innocence” as a result of the aborted FIFA investigation when he quit football in June 2011.

Editor’s Note: Richard Groden’s affidavit was forwarded to the Integrity Commission in mid-2012 but the matter is not known to have been investigated further.

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About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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  1. Warning: Undefined variable $userid in /www/wired868_759/public/wp-content/plugins/user-photo/user-photo.php on line 114

    The reason I believe for the posting is because of the letter by camps daughter yesterday

  2. Rumor has it. Jack will be found not guilty! Time will tell.

  3. Told ppl that there are more trini and bagoians to go to jail

  4. JW is as guilty as F$5K and knows it . He knows if he goes to jail, he dies there. He and his group are now embarrassingly facing the shit they created making us and T&T look bad. I have no empathy for him after re-rereading the Haiti affair. Let them all swim in their shit.

  5. Question : Are’nt the people who offered the bribe equally guilty ?

  6. Ok Keizer Sose same thing iam same thing iam saying you knows how many people are guilty and courts set them free but if a man has a heart what are his inner thoughts on his wrong doings knowing he is guilty courts ain’t God law homie so you ain’t saying nothing

  7. Like you are not reading my words he is innocent till proven guilty…let me ask you sumthin all the foreign coaches we had back in 2006 who paid their salaries and the coaching staff air fares accommodation under pnm roger boynes

  8. The government had to pay a bill that TTF A owed cause your most innocent buddy JW stole all the cash from but you guys still defending him

  9. Keizer Sose anybody who supports JW and his crooked ways moral values ain’t right anyhow you twist it he ain’t no good now he looking for sympathy luckily you giving it to him

  10. You don’t have to support my views we are individuals with a difference of opinion I will never tell you that your are incorrect unless it’s facts as for now this is an allegation which has to proven in court

  11. Mister your facts are wrong the government paid off all monies owing to the warriors last year then made sancho the minister of sports

  12. Continue making excuses for a crook rather Pathetic while the 2006 soca Warriors still waiting for there payments JW stole millions i cannot support your views at all

  13. Let me tell you the court procedure first magistrate court then high court then court of appeal followed by the privy council how much years that’s going to take that’s just the extradition the he can make a deal with the US government and give up the president of fifa with no jail term

  14. I not saying it’s lies but it has to be proven in a court of law there is a presumption of innocense why did the same trini come out before and go to the cops or press…

  15. Mister he is not guilty…it’s innocent till proven guilty you have to prove your case in law was Zimmerman guilty of killing Martin come on talk sense….you to go to court first Bossman

  16. Keizer Sose ist last 50 th ain’t the point he is guilty and o ly making excuses why he did it and calling other names when he was doing it he k ew this day was coming

  17. Ok jw is the first person in fifa history to do this in 111 years of it’s existence

  18. Keizer Sose is the usa who created lies on JW as you says look trinis coming out and talking now are you still making excuses for Mr JW

  19. What EXACTLY must ‘the citizens DO?

  20. mind boggling …. how has Warner gotten away with this ?

  21. i feel no pain the judgement of the most high does visit up those that do injustice, the reality most of the footballers i am sure came from poor background

  22. As a people, we still do not understand how corruption affects us in our daily lives. And, until we do, we will remain cursed and molested by those who know how to exploit stupidity, timidness and ignorance.

  23. Oh please! same ole same ole! everyone knows Jack is a smartman.

  24. The only reason Jack Warner not in Jail is because he was always protected by the corrupt FIFA ,and all that was done in Trinidad, well we all know, nobody goes to jail here for that kind of thing

  25. And remember over a dozen Caribbean officials then left Trinidad with envelopes stuffed with US$40,000. They were told not to worry about customs.

  26. Leh meh hush meh mouth eh. Them really good yes

  27. I agree with you Kevin Triniboy Amoroso We all aware he is not clean BUT, I dont think theres any country that can charge Mr Warner and other fifa officials for corruption. Even the FBI trying to investigate and meeting stumbling blocks so do you think little trinidad can do anything?
    Mr warner and his lawyers will make millions if any country tries

  28. We live in a society with PNM haters and UNC haters and a media that is a bandwagonist. Right now the UNC haters are barking the loudest and influencing the minds of everyone. If the PNM wins in 2015 the cycle will change. There are decent, honest and patriotic persons in this country who can make a change but they are smart enough to stay away from politics because of the nastiness involved.
    Keep in mind that our rejects always make it successful in other countries, ask yourself why

  29. I’m with you Kenroy Ambris,…. seeking justice is against the status quo. Sad but lets be realistic, the man been ah fraud since the early 80’s and still no jail, been ah government official and then some.. accept it Corruption is the way to go…

  30. I already start teaching my children not to get caught up in public perception and propagander because most of the times they are not the entire truth and when the truth comes out persons names already tarnished. Remember we live in a society that get an orgasm from negative news and when anyone tries to say something positive it is called PR propaganda.

  31. Corruption is Legal in T&T, been so, go stay so, ask Basdeo…lmao..

  32. ” What WE allow is what will continue ” If that is the future you intend to accept and foster for your children and grandchildren then that is you. But no amount of fluff can dispute the obvious.

  33. Kern why are you frustrating yourself over politics? you born and meet this nonsense going on, when you die it will still be happening, You cannot change it. When the PP is voted out of office and the PNM take over do you think it will be any difference? I dont think so.
    It is easy to have all the perfect answers when you are on the outside looking in but I want YOU and critics like Lasana Liburd to try running a ministry where you dont have the power you think you have and its only then you will respect those who are there.. Ask Anil, remember when he was a big mouth talk show host with all the answers?

  34. Between two acting CoP’s Gibbs and Williams, almost 3 yrs now this matter pending. The media is showing up the inefficiencies of the investigative abilities of the police service, or is it that the police is just corrupt. Either way they are not looking good.. Gibbs get a million dollar pay off on his dismissal that to this date neither the Police Service Commission nor the Nat. Security Minister at the time ( Jack Warner ) can account for who authorised that payoff.. Then we had the acting CoP Williams, almost in tears ( lol ) when Jack was removed as Nat. Sec. Minister. If I am not living in a circus then I don’t know.

  35. Jack and FIFA again!! same ole same ole… Ah fedup of hearing about Jack & FIFA. Ah want to hear something new that ah never heard before

  36. He right, I would have taken more money in bribes too, because was he prosecuted? As far as I see it provisions were made by the TT Government to allow Bin Hammam’s no hassle entry into the country and exit, no searches nothing!!!

  37. "And in the fullness of time everything shall of course be revealed."…………….. he said it!!!!!

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