IRS investigates Warner’s CONCACAF legacy

Concacaf president Jeffrey Webb confirmed on Thursday that the United States’ Internal Revenue Services (IRS), accounting firm BDO International and global legal company Sidley Austin LLP are working in tandem to scrutinize the legacy of his predecessor and Trinidad and Tobago’s National Security Minister Jack Warner.

The CONCACAF Executive was due to receive a report of these investigations at an extraordinary congress this month but Webb claimed the scale of the operation has forced a postponement until the first quarter of 2013.

“This audit is a massive undertaking that will set our financial house straight and ensure that CONCACAF’s operations are executed in a responsible and ethical manner going forward,” said Webb, via a media release. “This initiative was inspired by the new CONCACAF’s commitment to full accountability and transparency and it is essential that we get this right so we can move on to focus on our true purpose, the development of the game.”

Photo: Cayman Islands’ Jeffrey Webb is sandwiched by FIFA President Sepp Blatter (left) and then CONCACAF President Jack Warner during friendlier times for the trio.

Warner was CONCACAF president from 1991 to 2011 when he quit after being indicted by FIFA for allegedly facilitating the bribery of Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials.

Webb, the 47-year-old former Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) president, replaced Warner at the CONCACAF helm in May while the 38-year-old Colombia-born Enrique Sanz, a former director at football marketing company Traffic, was named as the successor to outgoing general secretary Chuck Blazer.

It appears that Webb and the present CONCACAF Executive are not prepared to forgive and forget its past.

In a release to the CONCACAF member associations, Webb insisted that the confederation was still investigating the ownership of the João Havelange Centre of Excellence in Macoya.

Photo: The controversial João Havelange Centre of Excellence in Macoya, Trinidad.

Wired868 was first to prove that Warner purchased the Centre of Excellence—then titled the Ansa Mc Al Warehouses Limited—from Trinidad Guardian Newspaper owner and business magnate Andrew Sabga on 7 October 1998.

The Chaguanas West MP claimed the Centre of Excellence was meant to be a gift for Caribbean football from ex-FIFA president João Havelange and was funded by the confederation. But, even after his ceremonious departure from the global football body, Warner has not relinquished the lucrative Macoya-based property.

Webb revealed that Sidley Austin LLP is reviewing the matter to determine if the confederation has any legal right to the Centre of Excellence and whether there were any loans or guarantees taken out on CONCACAF property.

Webb also said that CONCACAF may not have fulfilled its income and/or employment tax obligations and had not filed the necessary forms to maintain its not-for-profit status.

“BDO and the attorneys are working with the IRS with the goal of obtaining a retroactive reinstatement of CONCACAF’s exempt status,” said Webb, “(and) to assure that CONCACAF and its affiliated entity are in full compliance with applicable tax laws.”

Webb said that the review of Warner and Blazer’s tenure would be “examined and addressed to the maximum extent possible.”

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