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Defiant Warner suggests 3 more legal rounds, as Privy Council okays extradition of ex-FIFA VP

Trinidad and Tobago is now free to extradite former Fifa vice-president and Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner to face racketeering charges in the United States, after a ruling by the Privy Council in London today.

Warner, 79, is likely to face up to 20 years in jail if convicted of charges that include wire fraud, bribery and money laundering.

Former Chaguanas West MP and ex-FIFA vice president Jack Warner leaves the Hall of Justice after a hearing in 2017.
(Copyright Analisa Caruth/ Wired868)

Thus far, Warner has lost his legal case in Trinidad and Tobago’s Magistrate’s Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and, now, the Privy Council.

What happens next is likely to be high-level exchanges between the United States Department of Justice (DoJ), which initially charged Warner on 27 May 2015, and the Office of the Attorney General to determine whether the former party is required to send an updated request.

Inevitably, Warner will return to the Port of Spain Magistrate’s Court where a magistrate must be satisfied that the accused was properly identified, the offence is extraditable, and the evidence shows the offence was committed on a balance of probabilities.

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In a press release this morning, the former Government Polytechnic history teacher turned millionaire football administrator and politician said he would continue his legal fight.

“I continue to have confidence in my team led by Fyard Hosein Senior Counsel, and I have advised them to continue to press my case on the three remaining stages of these proceedings,” stated a release on Warner’s official Facebook page, purportedly issued by the one-time Minister of National Security. “I have lived in this country for nearly 80 years, and I am confident that I will continue to receive the love, affection, and respect that people from all walks of life have always extended to me. I am certain I will prevail in the end.”

Then England football captain David Beckham (right) chats with ex-FIFA vice president Jack Warner during a visit to the Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence, at the height of the bidding campaign for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
(Copyright AP)

Warner’s reference to “three remaining stages of these proceedings” is likely, according to a legal source, to include an appeal of the magistrate’s verdict to the Court of Appeal and, again, the Privy Council.

Arguably, it does not suggest that Warner is confident of his chances in any legal forum—but is determined to make the process as lengthy as possible.

In his statement today, Warner repeated his narrative that Fifa was the victim of a campaign by the United States, after the North American nation was overlooked for the 2022 World Cup.

He claimed the controversial global body selected the likes of Qatar and Russia—along with South Africa—to host the showpiece tournament as “developing countries who have been denied economic opportunity partly because for long periods they were under colonial domination”.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino (left) leans in to hug Russia President Vladimir Putin.

In fact, among the DoJ’s array of charges against Warner is that he arranged payments of US$10m from the South African organising committee for the 2010 World Cup, which were relayed by a Fifa bank account in Zurich, through a corresponding account in New York, to Caribbean Football Union (CFU) and Concacaf accounts controlled by the administrator at Republic Bank in Trinidad.

Legal documents released by the DoJ along with the Fifa-commissioned Michael Garcia report claimed that, bribes from World Cup bidding tournaments apart, Warner also diverted money meant to develop football in the Caribbean and, specifically, Trinidad and Tobago.

He was also accused of failing to relay close to US$690,000 (TT$4.4m) in aid money to Haiti after a tragic earthquake in Port-au-Prince in 2010.

Then Concacaf and CFU president Jack Warner takes some cases of water to Haiti.
Haitian football authorities say Warner did not pass on most of the money donated to them during the humanitarian crisis.
(Copyright Concacaf)

Warner opined that his “business” should not have concerned the United States and appeared to suggest that since he was not charged locally he did not commit a crime here.

“It is unfathomable how a New York District Attorney could commence a prosecution against me based solely on the fact that monies payable to me passed through the American banking system,” stated the release. “Furthermore, it is incredulous that allegations of misconduct arising out of a Fifa meeting held in Trinidad could be prosecuted in the United States whereas, in Trinidad itself it does not constitute criminal activity.”

Warner again was arguably loose with the facts when he gave his own view of extradition.

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

“I note that several European countries including France and Switzerland, several Latin American countries, including Brazil, and several African and Middle Eastern countries have refused to extradite their citizens,” stated Warner. “Trinidad and Tobago is therefore an outlier.”

From the 193 countries formally recognised by the United Nations, 112 of them have extradition treaties while even those without them have agreed to extradite citizens on a case-by-case basis.

France, Switzerland and Brazil all have formal extradition treaties—although, ironically Russia and Qatar do not.

Seven years ago, as the DoJ placed Warner on Interpol’s wanted list, the then head of the ILP political party vowed that he would not be broken:

Then United States President Barack Obama (left) is presented with soccer jerseys for his daughters, Sasha and Malia by Fifa president Joseph Blatter (centre) and vice-president Jack Warner during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House on Monday, 27 July 2009.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“[…] The people of Trinidad and Tobago will know that I quit Fifa and international football more than four years ago and that over the past several years I have recommitted my life to the work of improving the lot of every citizen of every creed and race in this nation.

“[…] I have fought fearlessly against all forms of injustice and corruption… I have walked away from the politics of world football to immerse myself in the improvement of lives in this country where I shall, God willing, die…”

Despite pitting his resistance to the DoJ’s extradition request as a struggle against the “great global colonisers”, Warner had no qualms about turning to the London-based Privy Council once the Port of Spain High Court and Court of Appeal said he should pack his bags.

Then Fifa VP and TTFA special advisor Jack Warner (left) reacts angrily to a surprise visit by late British investigative journalist Andrew Jennings in 2006.

Attorneys Clare Montgomery KC, Fyard Hosein SC, Anil Maraj, Rishi Dass, and Sasha Bridgemohansingh represented Warner.

James Lewis KC, Douglas Mendes SC, and Rachel Scott appeared for the Trinidad and Tobago Government.

Warner’s challenge at Privy Council relied on whether the extradition order was proper according to the various amendments of the Extradition Order; and whether the then Attorney General (Garvin Nicholas) breached his “right to procedural fairness” and acted in “conformity with the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago”.

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)

“The Board is satisfied that there was no unfairness in the procedure leading to the issue of the ATP (authority to proceed) [that allowed for Warner’s extradition,” declared the Privy Council today.

The Privy Council’s verdict, rendered by Lords Hodge, Briggs, Hamblen, Burrows and Sir Declan Morgan, takes Warner a step closer to a one-way ticket for New York.

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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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2 comments

  1. The crimes he is being accused of would surely be illegal in TT as well. Why is no TT law enforcement authority leading the way in these criminal cases?
    Were the alleged bribes declared on the TT taxes?
    The worst part of it is that Kamla made him a Gov minister even though she knew that he was facing serious allegations abroad, because of her stupid non sensical decision TT as a nation state is now being dragged into this. It is not about UNC vs PNM, the entire nation failed. If the allegations are true then this case should be taught in Universities to show how criminals circumvent laws designed to fight corruption, money laundering etc. This case can be seen as proof that those laws aren’t very effective. This man was minister of national security with access to sensitive information, he was minister of works and transport with access to billions of dollars, and this even after the allegations were public knowledge. What an embarrassment for TT. The country is not failing by accident, the country is failing by design. A failed state is the best kind of state for those who want to engage in criminal acts. No wonder the gunman types don’t care about nothing when they see man in suits like the high ranking politicians and gov officials breaking every rule in the book. Those of us who have a second passport for some well off country in the northern hemisphere are truly lucky, we have an escape route away from this madness. This year TT will possibly surpass 600murders a year, a terrible new record. Those who are fat off of ill gotten gains will of course either leave the country to avoid the situation they created for the majority, or hide behind the tall walls of their villas.

  2. bwah ha ha ha.

    It may take time but Warner’s days are definitely numbered. A flight is waiting… don’t forget the handcuffs too.