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US intelligence memo suggests Kamla stage-managed Warner’s FIFA exit

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has refused to confirm or deny a leaked United States intelligence report which suggested that the then Prime Minister helped script Jack Warner’s resignation from FIFA and was far more aware of the football executive’s alleged criminal behaviour than previously admitted.

Photo: Former Prime Minister and current Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. (Courtesy Caricom.com)
Photo: Former Prime Minister and current Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
(Courtesy Caricom.com)

According to the memo, Persad-Bissessar was concerned that a potential FIFA investigation into Warner’s activities might have dire implications for her government.

“As the FIFA scandal mounted, Persad-Bissessar privately pressed Warner to resign from FIFA and CONCACAF,” the memo stated, “in exchange for FIFA ending their investigations in pursuit of these charges.

“At the same time, the Prime Minister is aware of the complicated situation surrounding the US$500,000 Australian grant to Trinidad, and expects Warner’s resignation to preclude any serious investigation into the final use of this money.

“The Prime Minister was obviously only one of a group of people working to have Warner step down. But her role should not be underestimated, as Trinidad is Warner’s base and refuge in all matters of this type.”

The memo was shared with Wired868 by American journalist Mary Papenfuss who co-authored an investigative book on disgraced CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer.

Blazer was Warner’s close friend but became a FBI informant and helped sink the controversial Trinidad and Tobago sport administrator. The document was undated but appeared to have been written in the immediate aftermath of Warner’s FIFA resignation on 20 June 2011.

Photo: Former FIFA vice-president and Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Former FIFA vice-president and Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

Papenfuss’ book, American Huckster, went on sale on 26 April 2016 and was serialised by Sports Illustrated.

The memo, which was unearthed during investigations for the book, was unsigned but addressed to former CIA deputy director James Pavitt, who is a senior advisor at the Scowcroft Group.

The Scowcroft Group, according to its website, provides “risk assessment and market development strategies for Europe, Asia, Africa, Middle East and Latin America.” The company is managed by Brent Scowcroft, former national security advisor to George HW Bush. It lists former US secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice among its “principal members.”

Neither Pavitt nor the Scowcroft answered Wired868 queries as to why the company—which specialises in sourcing intelligence and contacts across the globe—was keeping tabs on Warner and Persad-Bissessar.

There was also no confirmation on whether the information was gathered by its own investigators or “gifted” to them by an FBI agent, since the US Department of Justice (DOJ) was investigating the former FIFA vice-president at the same time.

Photo: United States Attorney General Loretta E Lynch has led the DOJ charge at FIFA corruption and Jack Warner.
Photo: United States Attorney General Loretta E Lynch has led the DOJ charge at FIFA corruption and Jack Warner.

Persad-Bissessar listened to the details of the intelligence memo and did not confirm or deny any of the information. However, she asked to see the document before responding.

The suggestion that Warner hoped a prompt departure from FIFA would ensure his Cabinet survival was not new. In his resignation letter to the world governing body, Warner noted that he expected to fall back on his job with the Trinidad and Tobago government:

“With my withdrawal from service in international football, I shall, henceforth, be concentrating exclusively on my lifelong commitment to the service of the people of Trinidad and Tobago, currently as chairman of the major party in our governing coalition and as a cabinet minister in the government of our republic.”

However, the unnamed US investigator who authored the intelligence memo claimed that Warner’s prompt resignation may also have been designed to discourage any potential probe, which might have found that dirty money ended up in the UNC’s coffers.

To date, there is no evidence that any illicit funds were used to bolster the party now in Opposition.

Photo: UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar celebrates victory at the 2010 General Elections. (Copyright Frederic Dubray/AFP 2015)
Photo: UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar celebrates victory at the 2010 General Elections.
(Copyright Frederic Dubray/AFP 2015)

The memo stated:

[Warner] is a trusted supporter and fund raiser for Persad-Bissessar, and is credited by knowledgeable individuals with an important role in the victory over [former prime minister Patrick] Manning […] The Prime Minister is, as we stated, well aware of the allegations surrounding Warner’s activities at FIFA and in CONCACAF, but she tends to view these [as] minor compared to the intense, systematic corruption of the Manning administration…

In addition, Warner contributed a great deal of money (we are working on the amount) to the national campaign. In the opinion of a very sensitive source, Persad-Bissessar also understands that the bulk [of] Warner’s funds come via corruption.

The document contained a few errors and did not seem to be a final report while the investigator promised to gather more data in the near future.

In one paragraph, it claimed that Patrick Manning lost out to Persad-Bissessar in May 2011 and not 2010. While, in the following section, it suggested that Manning, who called a snap election, had resigned his post as prime minister.

However, US sources told Wired868 that they believe the document is genuine. And, thus far, neither Scowcroft nor Persad-Bissessar has disputed the allegations contained in it.

Photo: Former CIA director James Pavitt is now a senior advisor at US intelligence firm, Scowcroft Group.
Photo: Former CIA director James Pavitt is now a senior advisor at US intelligence firm, Scowcroft Group.

More from the memo:

By June 2011, the public reports of corruption involving Warner, Mohamed Bin Hammam, and Sepp Blatter became significant enough for the Prime Minister to weigh in on the side of those urging Warner to step down from FIFA, before the investigations turned up dramatic evidence of corruption that could not be explained or ignored.

Warner kept his Ministerial and Party posts, which allow him to continue to profit from graft. But nothing on the scale of his activities in FIFA.

Warner, according to the document, was convinced that FIFA would not pursue him after his resignation. He also expected to retain the controversial Centre of Excellence, which was funded by a combination of FIFA, CONCACAF and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) money, as well as a US$500,000 payment from the Football Federation Australia (FFA).

The memo states:

Warner is extremely angry over the loss of his lucrative and prestigious FIFA position. According to knowledgeable sources, he is still coming to grips with the embarrassment and loss of revenue that goes along with these resignations.

Warner apparently does believe that all serious investigations of his activities will now cease, and he is determined to find a way to maintain his influence in FIFA, while plotting revenge against Chuck Blazer […] whom he blames for his downfall.

Photo: Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter (left) and ex-CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter (left) and ex-CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

The document also suggested widespread corruption by the People’s Partnership Government, which was barely a year into its term at the time:

It is also important to remember that Trinidad is in the middle of a development boom related to newly developed oil and gas fields in their waters. These developments have fostered corruption throughout the economy, and Warner’s Ministry of Works and Transportation is a major factor in this environment.

Exactly one week after the FIFA bombshell, Persad-Bissessar had her first Cabinet reshuffle and, tellingly, handed Warner’s Transport portfolio to Devant Maharaj.

Warner, due to his Transport post, was line minister for the Airport Authority when Qatari businessman and FIFA vice-president Mohamed Bin Hammam landed at the Piarco International Airport with over US$1 million in May 2011, which was mostly distributed to Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials in a bribery scandal that rocked FIFA.

Bin Hammam travelled to Trinidad on a private jet and, according to one CFU source, was escorted out of the airport without meeting Customs officials.

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

Bizarrely, even as the Trinidad and Tobago police investigation into Warner’s role in the Bin Hammam bribery scandal remained open—the football administrator could still face charges under the Proceeds of Crime Act—Persad-Bissessar installed him as her Minister of National Security on 23 June 2012.

Warner remained National Security Minister until the Prime Minister asked him to resign on 22 April 2013.

Five days earlier, Persad-Bissessar met US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns in Washington to discuss “ongoing bilateral issues.”

On the agenda was also a new Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) that required foreign institutions to report their account holders to the US Internal Revenue Services (IRS). The IRS and FBI were jointly investigating Warner at the time.

Was Warner’s second shocking resignation another attempt by the then Prime Minister to stave off a potentially embarrassing investigation into the movement of allegedly illicit football funds?

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) and her then Minister of Works and Transport Jack Warner at the Trinidad and Tobago 2010 Women's Under-17 World Cup. (Courtesy FIFA.com)
Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) and her then Minister of Works and Transport Jack Warner at the Trinidad and Tobago 2010 Women’s Under-17 World Cup.
(Courtesy FIFA.com)

Wired868 asked Persad-Bissessar if she was informed at that Washington meeting about the DOJ’s probe into Warner.

She neither confirmed nor denied this. Instead, she asked this website to compile questions and email them to her along with the intelligence memo. She promised to respond promptly.

However, when Wired868 published over 15 hours later, the Opposition Leader still had not responded.

On 19 April 2013, two days after Persad-Bissessar met Burns, CONCACAF published an integrity report that made damning allegations on Warner’s term as the confederation’s president. The then prime minister claimed this report was the reason she decided to remove the former FIFA vice-president from her Cabinet.

However, according to a former government insider, Persad-Bissessar had already planned Warner’s departure months earlier. And the last straw had nothing to do with FIFA or the DOJ.

In January 2013, the source, who preferred to remain anonymous, claimed that Persad-Bissessar was tipped off that Warner instructed his secretly assembled New Flying Squad Intelligence United (NFSIU) to spy on fellow Cabinet members. And she was furious.

Photo: Former Chaguanas West MP and ex-FIFA vice president and TTFA special advisor Jack Warner (left) gets a police escort after an extradition hearing. (Copyright Diego Urdaneta/AFP 2015)
Photo: Former Chaguanas West MP and ex-FIFA vice president and TTFA special advisor Jack Warner (left) gets a police escort after an extradition hearing.
(Copyright Diego Urdaneta/AFP 2015)

By then, it was public knowledge that ex-Barbados attorney general Sir David Simmons was chairing a CONCACAF committee which was investigating Warner and expected to produce a sensational report.

Persad-Bissessar, according to the source, requested further information on the CONCACAF Integrity Report and was told that it should be published in April 2013.

And the former prime minister, who was described as a non-confrontational person by nature, allegedly chose to bide her time and wait for the public scandal that would force her to sack her National Security Minister.

Persad-Bissessar confirmed she was told that Warner planned to spy on his Cabinet colleagues. But she denied that her response to the NFSIU or Warner was influenced by rumours that he intended to gather information to blackmail high-ranking People’s Partnership members.

About the rumours of spying, Persad-Bissessar admitted there had been concerns. “But, in our view, the Flying Squad was an illegal matter to start with,” she told Wired868.

Thus far, police sources have denied that the short-lived NFSIU, which never received Cabinet funding, was ever directed to spy on politicians from either side.

Photo: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar takes a lift in a police car. (Courtesy UNCTT.org)
Photo: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar takes a lift in a police car.
(Courtesy UNCTT.org)

Whatever Persad-Bissessar’s final motivation for axing Warner, the leaked US intelligence memo suggested that she had ample reason to be rid of the controversial character years earlier.

But once in government, Persad-Bissessar, according to the memo, appeared to feel that the damage from Warner’s Cabinet role could be limited. And she was willing to risk Trinidad and Tobago’s international reputation on that premise.

The memo leaves us with this:

The Persad-Bissessar government recognises that any exposure of this activity [from Warner] will only serve to confirm the view in the region that Trinidad is one of the most corrupt countries in the Western Hemisphere.

And that this corruption is tolerated, and even sanctioned by various Ministers in the government.

Photo: Former Sport Minister and Central FC chairman Brent Sancho (second from right) is flanked by ex-Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) and former World Cup 2006 star and Central coach Stern John during the opening of the Irwin Park Sporting Complex in Siparia in 2015. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Former Sport Minister and Central FC chairman Brent Sancho (second from right) is flanked by ex-Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) and former World Cup 2006 star and Central coach Stern John during the opening of the Irwin Park Sporting Complex in Siparia in 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read response from ex-prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to intelligence memo.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and 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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203 comments

  1. Feroz Khan Venezuelans said the same thing. See what happens when a country is run by incompetent persons. Please wake up and smell the coffee. Forget party and be a national for a change. We are all in this together. This is OUR country…..Trinidad and Tobago….not Mother Africa or Mother India but Mother Trinidad and Tobago.

  2. Elbino Balgoinahdustbin yuh talking gobarrrr

  3. We all know the usa intelligence was investigating jack and kamla and the unc .Not only because of fifa but for the drugs that went to america in a juice tins because a major financier of the party was involved and was being protected

  4. so so sad take care trouble aint come home by you eh because from what i see pos more safe than central and south……becareful how u boast

  5. Is this the same u.s. intelligence that said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction , if so aint trying to hear that shit

  6. The public called for him to be removed

  7. Chuck blazer is a typical white man snitch out them black concacaf and arabs from plotting a coup in fifa. Concacaf has the bigges block of votes in fifa

  8. To David Addison……………………….I am UNAWARE of your age………..so I won’t suggest that you are the one INSULTING your own intelligence……………….you NEED to go to CALYPSO to UNDERSTAND the ” LEVELS OF CORRUPTION ” that existed before INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING starting here in this country……… ……………also…………………the NAR has proven that there could be GOVERNANCE without corruption…………so to say that corruption is ” part and parcel” of our history is ALSO WRONG

  9. Today if u ask the average man on the street which government they rather have running this country ,am sure they wud say the one that make their lives easy n not what we currently have. The pnm telling us that they spent that 2.5 billion already. Next month they will come n say they need more to run the country. Watch the oil price going up.

  10. I have the impression scow croft has a bad reputation. must check into it.

  11. Every body knew that she was the main orchestrator in the whole scenario , what gave them away is how all of sudden you all best became you all worst ? What caused that 180 degree turn .

  12. They probably sell such information to parties looking to have leverage over compromised governments in negotiations.

  13. There is another view here if you wanna speculate Chabeth and Vernal.
    Now Scowcroft Group trades in information, which they pass on to companies and so on for loads of cash.
    What do you think they planned to do with dirt on various nations and their Cabinet members? How did they plan to benefit from this at all?
    If the memo to the ex-CIA director was not written by his staff member but handed over by an active FBI investigator: then you might have State property being used for private gain…
    Quite a few layers I think into the underbelly of not only T&T.

  14. There is another view here if you wanna speculate.
    Now Scowcroft trades in information, which they pass on to companies and so on.
    What do you think they plan to do with dirt on various nations and their Cabinet members? How do they plan to benefit from this at all?
    If the memo to the ex-CIA director was not written by his staff member but handed over by an active FBI investigator: then you might have State property being used for private gain…
    Quite a few layers I think into the underbelly of not only T&T.

  15. I will say though I wasn’t a fan of the lone excerpt of this book that I read.
    I found it inaccurate and condescending.

    • I haven’t read it myself yet. But I didn’t recognise the description of the Centre of Excellence and the surrounding environs for sure.
      And didn’t appreciate the error where Keith Look Loy’s club was concerned. Although they tried to correct it when it was pointed out to them.
      Dennis Allen pointed out an excerpt that troubled him too.

    • ..I haven’t read the book and do not intend to. I do not take these “journalists” seriously. They made a gross, libellous error about the ownership of my club. I do not believe they have ever been to Macoya or even Trinidad. They use an unsigned document as the basis for part of their book. These people are not to be taken seriously..

    • ..And thanks for stating the fact about my club Lasana..

  16. Steups. She had absolutely nothing of value to say. She was just looking for an excuse to talk to Lasana yes…

  17. All Tanty hadda say is “ah man” borrow she phone! LOL

  18. Kamla Persad-Bissessar responds to US intelligence memo; skeptical of document but mum on allegations of pact with ex-minister and disgraced former FIFA VP Jack Warner
    http://wired868.com/2016/06/11/kamla-skeptical-of-intelligence-memo-but-mum-on-alleged-warner-pact/

  19. yea right
    i guess she plotted her losing the elections also

  20. You know, I began reading this then stopped when I realized it’s not gonna make a difference!

  21. Nobody is distracted by these findings. Mainly because it points to what was already suspected. The ex PM,her cabinet and Mr. Warner have been ‘bed fellows’ for some time until it made no sense to share close quarters. So, the present decisions surrounding use of the Heritage & Stabilization fund is no small matter, but considering our economic circumstance which could not have been created in 8-9 months, it is quite possible that use of the fund has become necessary. I don’t know about others, but nothing distracts me from the tough time we are facing as a nation and the fact that foolish financial management and unbridled corruption played a huge role in getting us here.

  22. Local elections at work here ? ?

  23. I enjoying watching them see hell haha

  24. Exactly. PNM people suffering like corbeaux but they shame to say is PNM have them suffering and eating grass. Best is just to watch them and laugh. I already do…

  25. Totally correct David Brahim.

  26. I enjoying life f them pnm surporters they red hungry an dead now.

  27. just remember everybody feeling it now now just certain people eh so all the dense UNC who just wishing to see the country bad remember yall living here too eh

  28. i not surprised she has shown she is capable of doing anything and she is very decietful…….she will of course have no hand in FIFA affairs but she could of given secret information to get Jack in the crosshairs

  29. Wow we seem to have lots of misinformed people out there spitting fire,

  30. Kamla don’t have to put African men in jail. They doing it themselves, plus the cemetery.

  31. And so she does look like the devil self when she wear red smh

  32. If not anybody, the PNM voters should really ketch their ass good and proper.

  33. Get Israel khan kamla. He big in d dance. Yuh could get away with murder once he on ur case. So call him up aunty kams, another big job for him. Setta nasty dutty hypocrites who would NEVER see god face