FIFA today acknowledged for the first time that its former vice-president and Trinidad and Tobago politician Jack Warner might be a target for the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Inland Revenue Services (IRS).
Warner insisted that he was unfairly targeted by a CONCACAF integrity report and got three paid jurists to support his claims as he prepares to contest the Chaguanas West seat in a by-election.
In a recent press conference, the former Minister of Minister of National Security made light of the findings from FIFA and CONCACAF since they do not carry the same weight as a court of law.
But Domenico Scala, the head of FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee told Reuters that the ex-CONCACAF President should be careful what he wishes for. Scala alleged that there may be much more serious investigators on the trail of Warner and his former general secretary Chuck Blazer.
“In the case of Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer this has far bigger implications than just (FIFA’s) Ethics Committee, or the rules of the game,” said Scala, in a media briefing the day before the FIFA annual congress. “There is sufficient suspicion that they have gone against the law and this will become an issue for the FBI and the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) in the case of taxation.
“So here the Ethics Committee and the world of FIFA stops; and people who have gone against the law will have to deal with the law.”
CONCACAF Integrity Committee chairman and former Barbados attorney general and chief justice Sir David Simmons found Warner and Blazer guilty of a series of fraudulent activities during their 21-year stint at the helm of the Confederation.
Warner, who resigned all his political posts after Simmons’ report in April, was accused of deceiving CONCACAF over the ownership of the Centre of Excellence among other things. The wealthy former administrator had repeatedly denied ownership of the Centre of Excellence until this year after Wired868’s exclusive report on the controversial venue.
Scala described Warner’s protestations as “useless and worthless.”
“If you read the CONCACAF integrity report it does not say anything positive or polite (about them),” said the 48-year-old Swiss industrialist, who was hired to enforce new financial controls at FIFA and guide the body’s reform process on to the statute books. “It’s a horrible document so therefore whatever they are saying today is frankly useless and worthless because, over an extended period of time, they abused the system…
“Here we have two individuals who behaved the way they did. Do we have other cases like this at FIFA? Maybe, I don’t know, but we have to face facts; we have to be very careful of accusing everybody because we have had 10 years of accusations and allegations and suspicions.”
Scala said that he advised Warner’s successor as CONCACAF president, Jeffrey Webb, to leave the Trinidadian to the relevant authorities.
“I said this to the new CONCACAF president: this issue is now one for the government entities and has passed (beyond) the FIFA world,” he said.
Scala said FIFA now ensures greater scrutiny of planned development grants and, as a result, projects in seven countries have been halted because of accounting concerns.
“From now on, no matter what went on in the past,” said Scala, “we are going to make sure that FIFA’s development money is used for the purpose it is intended.”
The Trinidad and Football Federation (TTFF) received two FIFA GOAL project grants over the past 15 years and both were used at the Centre of Excellence.
However, national football teams are still charged standard rates to use the playing facilities and the Trinidad and Tobago under-17 team was unable to train there before its ultimately unsuccessful World Cup qualifying campaign in April.