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Integrity Commission writes President: Appoint tribunal to probe Warner

Published: 
Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Integrity Commission has written to President Anthony Carmona asking him to appoint a tribunal to investigate allegations that Independent Liberal Party (ILP) leader Jack Warner committed fraud during his tenure as Concacaf president and FIFA vice-president. This comes almost ten months after the damning April 2013 Concacaf  Integrity Committee report, prepared by Sir David Simmons, accused Warner of misappropriating Concacaf funds and committing fraud against the world football governing body, Fifa. The Concacaf integrity report alleged that Warner, in his capacity as Concacaf president and FIFA vice-president, committed fraud against both football organisations in relation to the ownership of the Centre of Excellence in Macoya and Concacaf financial statements. The committee comprised Sir David, a former attorney general and chief justice of Barbados, Judge Ricardo Urbina and Ernesto Hempe.

 

The allegations prompted Warner’s resignation from the People’s Partnership government as national security minister. Warner also tendered his resignation from the United National Congress (UNC) as party chairman and as MP for Chaguanas West last year. He subsequently formed his own political party (ILP) and successfully contested the Chaguanas West constituency. Yesterday, the Integrity Commission, in a media release, said it “took note” in April 2013 of the report and “in the interest of the public, the commission decided to enquire further into these allegations of fraud.” The commission said Section 33 (a) of the Integrity in Public Life Act says it “may on its own initiative consider and enquire into any alleged breaches of the act or any allegations of corrupt or dishonest conduct.” In accordance with Section 15 of the act it wrote to the President, it said, requesting the tribunal to “enquire further into declarations submitted by Warner.” By law the tribunal would consist of two or more members of the Integrity Commission. The Concacaf Integrity Committee report said Warner and Concacaf secretary Chuck Blazer were central figures in the investigation but declined requests to participate in the investigation and give their evidence. 

 

Warner: It’s a smokescreen
Warner, however, says the call for a tribunal is a smokescreen to divert national attention from the $644 million cocaine shipment seized in the US in December. Yesterday, Warner told the T&T Guardian he was not aware of the commission’s request for a tribunal to investigate the allegations in the Concacaf report, though he said he welcomed any investigation. “The Integrity Commission is free to do what it terms of what is in their best interest,” he said. “They are free to do what Concacaf and Fifa are not doing. They are free to do it, I have no problem with that. 
“I am not in the least bit worried. I sleep very soundly at night. “I repeat, they are free to do what Concacaf and Fifa have not done or are not doing. I have no problem with that.” But Warner questioned the timing of the commission’s request, which he believed had a covert motive. “Somebody hopes that this ludicrous request of the President will put the cocaine bust in the background, but it will not,” he said. “This is just a smokescreen. After all the news has been, and continues to be, the drug bust, how do you find a means of a diversion to get rid of that using Jack Warner? “Just call Jack Warner name and you get a diversion. “They do not understand that those kinds of things do not work any more. The country has become too sophisticated.”
 
What the law says:

Section 15 of the act says: “Where upon the examination referred to in section 13, the commission is of the opinion that it should enquire further into any declaration so as to ascertain whether there has been a full disclosure, it may advise the President to appoint a tribunal of two or more of its members to conduct an enquiry to verify the contents of the declaration or the statement filed with the commission.”

 

What the report said:

The Integrity Committee of Concacaf determined that, on the balance of probabilities, in connection with the Centre of Excellence and Concacaf operations in T&T:

Warner
• committed fraud against Concacaf and Fifa
• committed fraud and misappropriated funds from Fifa
• violated the Fifa ethics code

 Warner and Blazer: 
•breached their fiduciary duties to Concacaf
• violated the Concacaf statutes
 
The committee concluded that Warner committed fraud against Concacaf and Fifa in connection with the Centre of Excellence by securing funds from Fifa and Concacaf by falsely representing, and intentionally creating a false impression, that the land on which the building was developed was owned by Concacaf when it was in fact owned by his own companies. Second, he got Fifa to transfer funds that were intended for development of the Centre of Excellence to himself by falsely representing that bank accounts to which Fifa should send the funds were Concacaf accounts, when in fact he controlled them personally. 

 

What the Law says:

Section 15 of the act says: “Where upon the examination referred to in section 13, the commission is of the opinion that it should enquire further into any declaration so as to ascertain whether there has been a full disclosure, it may advise the President to appoint a tribunal of two or more of its members to conduct an enquiry to verify the contents of the declaration or the statement filed with the commission.”

 

 

What the report said

The Integrity Committee of Concacaf determined that, on the balance of probabilities, in connection with the Centre of Excellence and Concacaf operations in T&T:
Warner:
• committed fraud against Concacaf and Fifa
• committed fraud and misappropriated funds from Fifa
• violated the Fifa ethics code

 Warner and Blazer: 
•breached their fiduciary duties to Concacaf
• violated the Concacaf statutes
 
The committee concluded that Warner committed fraud against Concacaf and Fifa in connection with the Centre of Excellence by securing funds from Fifa and Concacaf by falsely representing, and intentionally creating a false impression, that the land on which the building was developed was owned by Concacaf when it was in fact owned by his own companies. 
Second, he got Fifa to transfer funds that were intended for development of the Centre of Excellence to himself by falsely representing that bank accounts to which Fifa should send the funds were Concacaf accounts, when in fact he controlled them personally.