Soccer

Friday 25 July 2014

Probe as ex-FIFA official paid €1.4m by Qatari firm

Claire Newell and Holly Watt Miami

Published 18/03/2014|02:30

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Former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner
Former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner

A senior FIFA official and his family were paid almost €1.4m from a Qatari firm linked to the country's controversial bid for the 2022 World Cup.

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Jack Warner, the former vice-president of FIFA, appears to have been personally paid €860,000 from a company controlled by a former Qatari football official shortly after the decision to award the country the tournament.

Payments totalling almost €540,000 were made to Mr Warner's sons, documents show, and a payment of €287,000 was paid to one of his employees.

It is understood that the FBI is now investigating Trinidad-based Mr 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.

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.

It can be disclosed that a company owned by Mohamed Bin Hammam, the FIFA executive member for Qatar, appeared to pay $1.2m (€0.86m) to Mr Warner in 2011.

A note from one of Mr Warner's companies, Jamad, to Mr Bin Hammam's firm, Kemco, requested $1.2m 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". Mr Warner's two sons and an employee were paid a further $1m 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 $1m covers "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."

Mr Warner was one of the most experienced members of the executive committee until he stood down in 2011 and served as vice-president of the organisation for 14 years.

It is understood that the FBI is investigating payments to Mr Warner. The investigators are thought to be focusing on Mr Warner's American and Grand Cayman accounts.

BIDDING

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.

The disclosures will add to concerns that some Fifa executive committee members were not impartial when they cast their votes in December 2010.

Mr 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." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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