(Trinidad Express) The Daily Telegraph in London yesterday reported that former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner and his family were paid almost US$2 million from a Qatari firm linked to the country’s successful bid for the 2022 World Cup.
According to the Telegraph, Warner appears to have been personally paid US$1.2 million from a company controlled by a former Qatari football official shortly after FIFA’s decision to award the country the tournament.
Several calls by the Express to Warner’s cellphone last night for a comment went unanswered.
Warner is MP for Chaguanas West and leader of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP). He was minister of national security in the People’s Partnership Government until he resigned last year.
There was also a video by Alastair Good on the Telegraph website showing Telegraph reporter Claire Duffin trying to get a comment from Warner as he entered the Sunshine newspaper office at Eastern Main Road, Arouca.
Warner told Duffin: “You came to my house yesterday to talk to me, don’t talk to me please.”
Duffin asked Warner “what were the payments for?” and “did the payments influence the way you voted?”, but Warner did not reply.
Following is the text of the Telegraph story, written by Claire Newell, Holly Watt, Claire Duffin and Ben Bryant:
A senior FIFA official and his family were paid almost US$2 million from a Qatari firm linked to the country’s successful bid for the 2022 World Cup, The Telegraph discloses.
Jack Warner, the former vice-president of FIFA, appears to have been personally paid US$1.2 million from a company controlled by a former Qatari football official shortly after the decision to award the country the tournament.
Payments totalling almost US$750,000 were made to Warner’s sons, documents show. A further US$400,000 was paid to one of his employees.
It is understood that the FBI is now investigating Warner and his alleged links to the Qatari bid, and that the former FIFA official’s eldest son, who lives in Miami, has been helping the inquiry as a co-operating witness.
The awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was one of the most controversial decisions in sporting history. The intense summer heat in the desert nation has raised the prospect of the tournament being moved to the winter for the first time.
Although Qatar has repeatedly denied wrongdoing during the bidding process, it has long been suspected that the decision was flawed, and several members of the FIFA committee have faced corruption allegations.
Today it can be disclosed that a company owned by Mohamed Bin Hammam, the FIFA executive member for Qatar, appeared to pay US$1.2 million to Warner in 2011.
A note from one of Warner’s companies, Jamad, to Bin Hammam’s firm, Kemco, requested US$1.2 million in payment for work carried out between 2005 and 2010.
The document is dated December 15, 2010, two weeks after Qatar won the right to host the tournament, and states that the money is “payable to Jack Warner”.
Warner’s two sons and an employee were paid a further US$1 million by the same Qatari company.
One document states that payments are to “offset legal and other expenses”, but a separate letter claims that more than US$1 million cover “professional services provided over the period 2005-2010”.
At least one bank in the Cayman Islands initially refused to process the payment amid fears over the legality of the money transfer. The money was eventually processed via a bank in New York–a transaction that is understood to have come to the attention of the FBI.
A well-placed source said: “These payments need to be properly investigated. The World Cup is the most important event in football and we need to be confident that decisions have been made for the right reasons. There are lots of questions that still need to be answered.”
Warner was one of the most experienced members of the executive committee until he stood down in 2011, having served as vice-president of the organisation for 14 years. He was one of the 22 people who decided to award Russia the 2018 World Cup and Qatar the 2022 tournament.
It is understood that the FBI is investigating payments to Warner and that one of his family members has been acting as a “co-operating witness”.
The investigators are thought to be focusing on Warner’s American and Grand Cayman accounts.
Michael Garcia, the joint chief investigator of FIFA’s ethics committee, is also investigating irregularities surrounding the bidding process. He is expected to deliver his report to the committee later this year.
Today’s disclosures will add to concerns that some FIFA executive committee members were not impartial when they cast their votes in December 2010. England suffered a humiliating defeat when it secured only two votes to host the 2018 World Cup and was eliminated after the first round.
Even before the decision was made, there were persistent allegations of corruption. Six weeks before the vote in Zurich, a World Cup official was caught in an undercover investigation agreeing to sell his vote to one of England’s rivals.
A second member of the same committee was recorded asking for £1.5 million for a sports academy. Both officials were suspended, meaning that 22 people voted instead of the usual 24.
A whistleblower also claimed that one of the bidders had bought the votes of three African executive committee members. The former FIFA employee later withdrew the allegations.
Following England’s defeat, a parliamentary committee held an inquiry into the failed bid. Lord Triesman, the bid’s former chairman, gave evidence stating that four FIFA executive committee members had asked for business deals and favours when negotiating their support. One of those he named was Warner.
The Labour peer said that the then FIFA vice-president had asked for money to build an education centre in Trinidad, with the cash to be channelled through him, and £500,000 to buy World Cup television rights for Haiti.
In June 2011, Warner resigned from all football posts after he was accused of facilitating bribes to members of the Caribbean Football Union on behalf of Bin Hammam, who was standing against Sepp Blatter to be FIFA president.
A report by the FIFA ethics committee found that there was “compelling” evidence that Warner was “an accessory to corruption”.
Warner was caught on tape apparently urging fellow FIFA officials to accept cash gifts from Bin Hammam, the disgraced former presidential candidate.
The documents seen by The Daily Telegraph raise further questions about Warner’s activities.
One e-mail, which appears to have been sent by one of Warner’s employees, shows that the staff member personally received US$412,000 from the Qatari company and that Warner’s son, Daryll, was paid US$432,000. Daryan, his other son, was paid US$316,000 via a company called We Buy Houses.
Regarding the payments to Daryan, the e-mail states that he was “contracted…based on his understanding, contacts and history with the regional players who make up an integral part of the defence team…pursuant to FIFA bribery allegations. As stated in our letter of June 11, 2011, the value of US$316,000, and this is an initial deposit to offset legal and other expenses related to the matter”.
In July, a different e-mail shows that “monies in the amount of US$1.2 million” were wire transferred to J&D International, another of Warner’s companies, by the same Qatari firm. It states that this is to “offset legal and other related expenses associated with regard to an ongoing matter”.
Warner and his family declined to comment.
A spokesman for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup organising committee said: “The 2022 bid committee strictly adhered to FIFA’s bidding regulations in compliance with their code of ethics.
“The supreme committee for delivery and legacy and the individuals involved in the 2022 bid committee are unaware of any allegations surrounding business dealings between private individuals.”