Tuesday 25 October 2016

FIFA's Warner accused of pocketing Haiti aid cash

Harriet Alexander in Los Angeles

Published 10/06/2015 | 02:30

A woman walks down a devastated street in Port-au-Prince after the quake in 2010.,
A woman walks down a devastated street in Port-au-Prince after the quake in 2010.,
Jack Warner

Jack Warner, the former vice president of Fifa, has been accused of diverting aid from Haiti into his own bank accounts.

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Mr Warner (72) visited Haiti in 2010 in the aftermath of the earthquake which killed more than 200,000 people and razed much of the impoverished country. The Trinidad and Tobago football chief, who now finds himself at the centre of the international scandal enveloping world football, was given a $750,000 (€665,000) sum from Fifa and the Korean Football Association to help rebuild the country after the disaster.

"I left those guys with a sense of hope," he said after his visit. "I left a country with a sense of hope."

Estimates at the time put the cost of rebuilding Haiti at between $8bn and $14bn.

Yet documents obtained by the BBC show that Mr Warner asked for the money to be paid into his own private bank account. The money was labelled "personal use". The BBC said that the money has not been accounted for.

Warner is on bail in Trinidad after he was indicted by US authorities over allegations of racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering conspiracies spanning 24 years.

"Jack Warner was the most powerful man in the Caribbean," a source said. "Given his power in Trinidad, he'd get transactions done that ordinary folks could not."

The BBC said that 75 bank accounts in the name of Mr Warner were being investigated.

Mr Warner denies all the allegations against him. He claims he is the victim of a conspiracy. Chuck Blazer, the American whistle­blower, has said that he and others took bribes totalling $10m for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup and an undisclosed sum for Morocco's unsuccessful bid to host the 1998 tournament.

Four years ago, Warner promised a tsunami of revelations about FIFA corruption. Last month, the former FIFA vice president vowed an avalanche - documents linking the sport's governing body and its president to payments to the Caribbean.

Yet when given the chance to divulge such evidence, he said in 2013 he didn't have any. Warner told a corruption investigation that he had ended all ties with the sport and Concacaf, the regional soccer body he ran for 21 years.

"Having done so, I have no documents or records in any form in my possession or otherwise which allow me to respond to the matters contained in your letter," Warner wrote to judge David Simmons, who was leading an internal inquiry for Concacaf into malpractice, mismanagement and corruption. Simmons asked for "any and all" documents relating to Warner's reign.

Warner is one of the highest-profile members among a group of soccer officials and sports business executives indicted by the US last month in a sprawling corruption case that outlines bribery and kickback schemes dating back more than two decades. The case rocked FIFA, leading President Sepp Blatter to announce he'd step down only days after winning a fifth term. Facing extradition to the US, Warner last week posted a rambling video saying he had placed files with attorneys in multiple countries that contain details that compromise Blatter. Asked to elaborate on those allegations, Warner responded in an email: "If and when I decide to disseminate any further information you will be advised."

Warner's inconsistent behaviour was also evident on Thursday when he left jail in an ambulance complaining of exhaustion before recovering hours later to lead a political rally where he danced enthusiastically.

Warner, a former history teacher, quit FIFA in the middle of an investigation into the role he played in a 2011 meeting where envelopes stuffed with cash were handed out to Caribbean delegates ahead of the soccer body's presidential elections. The US says the payments were bribes.

Irish Independent

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