National Security Minister Jack Warner

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FBI PROBES WARNER

...on CONCACAF money-laundering allegations

By Asha Javeed asha.javeed@trinidadexpress.com

NATIONAL Security Minister Jack Warner is the subject of an enquiry by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The Express learned that the FBI's enquiry is based on money-laundering allegations against former FIFA vice-president Warner which stem from his relationship with Chuck Blazer, former general secretary of CONCACAF, the football federation for North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Questioned on the enquiry and whether FBI officials will be in Trinidad and Tobago to gather evidence, the United States Embassy in Port of Spain issued this statement to the Express: "As a matter of long-standing policy, we do not comment on law enforcement matters."

Blazer was the whistle-blower into the bribes-for-votes allegations made against Warner and Qatar football official Mohammed bin Hammam at a Caribbean Football Union (CFU) meeting held at Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain in 2011. Blazer's allegations, leading up to FIFA's presidential election last year, resulted in Warner's resignation as vice-president of FIFA, president of CONCACAF and president of the Caribbean Football Union. It is alleged that bin Hammam offered 40 members of the CFU US$40,000 each for their votes in the FIFA presidential election.

In 2011, Blazer was also the subject of an FBI enquiry for allegedly hiding a multi-million-dollar offshore account.

At the time, the FBI was examining evidence that payments may have come from the CFU during the time of Warner's presidency.

At that time and in response to the reports and the FBI investigation of Blazer, Warner had told the Express that he "was not surprised" that Blazer was under scrutiny and he was not concerned that his name would be called into question in this scandal.

"The world will finally get to understand what I have been saying all along. This is only the beginning. There is a whole lot more to come, trust me," Warner had said.

In September, newly-appointed CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb said the finances of CONCACAF under Warner's tenure, when he was president of the body from 1991 to 2011, were still being probed by the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Warner denied the probe then.

One of Webb's concerns was for CONCACAF to finally determine "whether CONCACAF has legal title to the Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence (at Macoya) and whether there may be guarantees or loans against CONCACAF's property is still being determined".

Contacted on the matter on Saturday, Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams said he had not been informed of any investigation.

The Express learned that the Financial Intelligence Bureau (FIB) of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service has also been investigating the matter.

In May, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard advised the police that investigations should be continued in the context of the Customs Act in the CFU "cash-for-votes" incident. That information came out in the public domain after former Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs had told the Police Service Commission that Warner had been cleared of any allegations.

Questioned on the state of the police investigation into Warner, Williams said he couldn't comment as he had not been recently briefed, but gave an undertaking to provide an update.

Warner was appointed to the post of National Security Minister in June.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar did not respond to texts yesterday on the matter.

Attempts to reach Warner yesterday, once by e-mail and several times by phone, were futile.

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