Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is seeking official corroboration of the information in the Reuters FBI probe story in which National Security Minister Jack Warner and his son Daryan are mentioned, according to the PM's office.This statement was issued yesterday afternoon by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in response to queries about the international Reuters story, headlined "FBI has co-operating witness for soccer fraud probe: sources."
The news report by journalist Mark Hosenball said an FBI probe into alleged corruption in international soccer had "recently intensified after investigators persuaded a key party to be a co-operating witness."The article quoted US law-enforcement sources.The story claimed the witness was Daryan Warner, son of Warner, a former Fifa vice-president. The sources reportedly declined to discuss the role of Daryan Warner further. The story said they did not identify who might be charged, if anybody, or when.
It also claimed: "While the exact scope of the investigation is not clear, among the matters under scrutiny are two previously reported allegations involving Jack Warner who is T&T's National Security Minister."The OPM's statement quoted the Prime Minister as saying she "will not rely on published reports in the media but will again seek to get official corroboration of the information now in the public domain before making any determination or pronouncement."
Government sources said it was expected some information would be obtained on the story by today's Cabinet meeting.Asked about the article yesterday, Warner's adviser Francis Joseph said the minister had not seen it yet and was in a meeting. He said Warner had been in touch with his son every day.The UNC hierarchy yesterday remained mum on the report on its chairman.
UNC deputy leader Suruj Rambachan said while he had seen the story, he was not in a position to respond. "I think the party has to properly respond," he added.UNC deputy leader Roodal Moonilal responded to a texted request for comment with the message: "No comment." Attorney General Anand Ramlogan also did not respond.
The COP is also seeking facts on the Reuters story, says COP chairman Carolyn Seepersad- Bachan.COP leader Prakash Ramadhar is on vacation until April 13, his secretariat said yesterday. While the COP has a party principle that senior members under a cloud of allegation or probe should step aside from any office, Seepersad-Bachan said the Reuters story had to be verified first and more details obtained before COP could comment:
She added: "We do not have the facts. If there's any investigation, we need to verify that. We have to get the facts first and ascertain if there's an investigation and the other side has to be heard before we make any pronouncement."Former COP vice chairman Vernon de Lima said: "COP's position is and always has been: Mr Warner should not be a Cabinet member until such time as he is clear of any or all allegations against him.
"In my view he should have stopped being in Cabinet two years ago when issues first arose and we in COP suggested that. We foresaw at the time there could have been complications."De Lima added: "He's fully entitled to have his side of the story heard and I am holding to the position I have always held: That I am confident Mr Warner will shortly visit the US and clear up any allegations that may be spurious. It's only fair to him."
PNM wants answers
No less than a prime ministerial explanation will suffice on the Reuters story, says the Opposition PNM."It may be a case of 'we told you so,' and so the Prime Minister must clear the air on this international report where one of our minister is mentioned and she must say if there is validity in it," said PNM senator Fitzgerald Hinds yesterday.
Calling for Government's view, Hinds added: "We know Mr Warner's sons are in the US and have not returned to T&T in a long time and we are now hearing of this (Reuters report). It's clearly serious."If it's true, then the international embarrassment in this will be laid at the feet of the Prime Minister as it was on her authority ministers were appointed."
Hinds added: "I call on the Prime Minister to tell us what is the state of affairs regarding her minister, who we said ought not to have been minister in the first place. She appointed him and defended him so she must explain now."He said he also wanted answers from the acting Police Commissioner on his call for scrutiny of bribery allegations concerning the alleged CFU issue at the Hyatt in 2011. Hinds said an investigator was assigned to probe Concacaf dealings as far back as they could look.
"But we've had no feedback from the acting Police Commissioner on this," he added.