The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) has scored a first-round victory in its legal battle against its former president Jack Warner over the ownership of the Dr Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence in Macoya.
Delivering a decision, on Monday afternoon, High Court Judge Robin Mohammed dismissed an application from two companies owned by Warner’s family and his wife Maureen to remove them from the US$37.8 million lawsuit which was brought against them, Warner, Warner’s accountant Kenny Rampersad and Rampersad’s accounting firm.
In the application, Warner’s wife and the companies, Renraw Investments Limited and CCAM and Company Limited were claiming that the case, filed in 2016, was statute barred as it concerned conduct which took place between 1995 and 2011.
They also submitted that while Concacaf could claim that Warner had a fiduciary duty to it based on his long stint at the helm of the organisation, they had no connection.
Issues with the ownership of the lucrative property, which features a swimming complex, restaurants, a 44-room hotel, conference facilities, a gym and the Marvin Lee Stadium, arose shortly after Warner’s successor at Concacaf, Jeffery Webb instituted an integrity investigation against him and fellow former president Chuck Blazer.
The investigation came three years before Warner and Blazer and other Fifa officials were implicated in a United States (US) Department of Justice investigation into corruption in the operations of world football’s governing body.
Warner is still currently fighting his proposed extradition to the US to face the charges with the Privy Council dismissing a preliminary challenge earlier this year.
In the claim, Concacaf is contending that Warner, his wife and the companies were involved in a conspiracy to misappropriate Concacaf funds which were allocated to construct the facility by misrepresenting that it (the facility) was actually owned by Concacaf.
Concacaf also listed Rampersad and his company as parties to the claim as it contended that he had a conflict of interest by serving as the accountant for both Concacaf and the companies.
In defence of the claim, Warner, who served as Concacaf president between 1990 and 2011, has claimed that he could not recall facts surrounding the deal due to Concacaf’s delay in bringing the claim.
He also denied that he and his wife had a controlling interest in the companies and that he misappropriated funds.
Warner’s wife has also contended that she was never involved in the financing of the project.
Rampersad also denied any wrongdoing as he contended that he provided secretarial services to the companies and claimed that he did not owe Concacaf any fiduciary duty as he merely served as an auditor.
In 2019, US District Court Judge William Kuntz granted Concacaf a default judgement in a separate US$79 million case against Warner, in which it alleged that Warner embezzled tens of millions of dollars from it.
The outcome of that case was based on Warner’s failure to defend it.
Justice Mohammed’s decision on the preliminary issue means that the substantive case can now go on trial before him.
A case management conference in the case is scheduled to be held on February 2.
Warner and the companies were represented by Fyard Hosein, SC, Sasha Bridgemohansingh and Anil Maraj, while Rishi Dass and Maria Narinesingh represented Warner’s wife.
Concacaf was represented by Christopher Hamel-Smith, Jonathan Walker and Cherie Gopie.