Warner was warned about Hyatt meeting

(Trinidad Guardian) Former FIFA vice-president and president of CONCACAF, Jack Warner, was warned by the CONCACAF general secretary that the payment of the expenses for the special meeting of regional football delegates at the Hyatt by Mohammed Bin Hammam “would raise ethical issues.” This is according to the report of the FIFA Ethics Committee of May 29, which was made available to the Guardian yesterday. The report was leaked on the same day that the Sunday Guardian reported that Warner, who now serves as Minister of Works and Infrastructure, was stripped of the Transport portfolio by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar because he was more popular than she was.

Warner announced that he was resigning from all of his football post on June 20 before the FIFA Ethics Committee concluded its inquiry into the  facilitation of bribery allegations against him. Warner’s resignation meant that FIFA dropped the charges against him. Those charges included that he organised a meeting at the Hyatt on May 10 and 11 at which bundles of US$40,000 were handed to representatives of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU). In the FIFA Ethics Committee report, Warner was quoted as asserting that Bin Hammam did not give him any money for distribution to the delegates, neither did they discuss any such matter nor did he give any gift or inducement personally. The FIFA Ethics Committee report described the arguments put forward by Warner as “mere self-serving declarations.”

The report stated that Warner, who was described as “the accused” throughout the report, “firmly disputes that money was distributed to CFU (Caribbean Football Union) member associations or officials at this meeting and that he indicated to the delegates attending the meeting that the money came from Mr Bin Hammam.” The committee said: “Notwithstanding the above, at this stage the FIFA Ethics Committee considers that it appears that on the occasion of the CFU meeting of May 10 and 11, US$40,000 in cash were offered to each of CFU’s member associations.  “This assumption is based not only on the detailed statements and affidavits of the witnesses mentioned before, but also on objective evidence in the form of photographs and transcripts of cellphone text messages.”

According to the committee, the statements of several CFU member associations presented by Warner to dispute the allegation that they were offered or had received money “are not suited to disprove” the evidence provided by the Bahamas representatives or the representatives of Bermuda, Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands that they were offered gifts in the form of cash money. The FIFA Ethics Committee also deemed it “simply inconceivable” that Warner would not have known anything about the money offered to the attendees—given his role in the CFU and his role in the context of the special meeting. The committee said that it was of the opinion that Warner appeared to have had knowledge of the payments made to the CFU members by Mr Bin Hammam.

“Given that the accused appears to have had knowledge of the payments made to the CFU members by Mr Bin Hamman, it might seem also clear to the accused that Mr Bin Hammam appears to have intended, by delivering the respective money, to influence the voting behaviour of the CFU member associations at the FIFA presidential election on June 1 in his favour,” according to the committee’s report. It said that a “different, reasonable explanation” for the US$40,000 distributed to each of the CFU member associations “has not been established, nor is any such explanation evident.”

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