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Gibbs: Police to ask FIFA for bribery info

By Alike Simon

Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs yesterday said that the police will approach FIFA with a view to requesting information in relation to bribery allegations against suspended FIFA vice president and Works and Transport Minister, Jack Warner.

Gibbs's statement has come following demands by the Opposition People's National Movement (PNM) that the police launch a criminal probe into the bribery allegations which are alleged to have occurred in the country.

Previously, Gibbs had rejected calls by the Opposition, Transparency International and other quarters for the police to launch a probe, stating that no official report had been made to the police on the allegations.

Warner and Mohamed bin Hammam were suspended from FIFA following allegations that delegates of the CFU were each offered US$40,000 at a meeting at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port of Spain, to support Bin Hammam's candidacy for the position of FIFA president.

In a press statement from the public affairs unit yesterday, Gibbs denied claims by the Opposition that his failure to initiate a police probe was tantamount to a dereliction of duty.

Gibbs, in the face of repeated calls for the police to initiate a criminal probe into allegations, has stated that there was nothing tangible in the allegations which warrants a police probe.

Gibbs was also supported in his view by Deputy Commissioners Jack Ewatski and Mervyn Richardson, who previously stated that the allegations was not worthy of a police probe since no official report has been made.

Though he maintained this position yesterday, Gibbs said the police will write to FIFA in an attempt to seek information on the allegations.

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, on Thursday, gave Gibbs a five-day ultimatum to reverse his "untenable" position not to investigate whether over US$1 million illegally entered the country in order to pay members of the Caribbean Football Union in the money-for-votes scandal.

However in his statement, Gibbs pointed out that allegations relating to the US$1 million are matters for the Customs and Excise Division.

Yesterday's statement read: "Please be informed that there is no dereliction of duty by the Commissioner of the Police. The public is hereby advised that to date, there has been no official report made by any member of society, neither has there been any official report made by any official of the Federation International of Football Association (FIFA) with regards to any alleged criminal conduct offered within Trinidad and Tobago by any named individual or individuals.

In the circumstances, it is impracticable to commence any criminal investigation into any alleged criminal conduct based on reports carried by the media.

Notwithstanding the above, it is our intention to write to FIFA requesting any information which they may have in their possession which may afford us the opportunity of commencing any investigation/s into any alleged criminal activity within our jurisdiction.

With respect to the alleged US$1 million, the Comptroller of Customs has jurisdiction over this matter as the Exchange Control (Import and Export) Order and the Exchange Control Act provides Customs with the Authority.

Specifically clause (3) which states: "There shall be exempted from the provisions of section 22(1)(b) of the Act the importation into Trinidad and Tobago by traveller on his person or in his baggage of foreign currency notes which are or have at any time been legal tender in any country to the extent of US$5,000 currency in value."

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