How FIFA Villain Jack Warner Keeps Getting Away
A fortune in Haiti earthquake relief, $10 million from South Africa, $2 million from Qatar. Jack Warner allegedly pocketed it all—but he’s the one vowing revenge.
Jack Warner fails to mention one thing about the FIFA money he says was used to influence the 2010 election in his native Trinidad and Tobago.
He neglects to say that the cash appears to have come from the millions of FIFA dollars looted by none other than Jack Warner.
Warner would have us believe that the money came direct from FIFA on instructions from the now-outgoing president, Sepp Blatter.
Warner further says the ultimate beneficiary was the big winner of the 2010 election, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
To support his allegations, Warner has leaked at least five checks totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars made out to Ross Advertising of Trinidad, days before the agency reportedly sought to bring in Henry Bernard Campbell, a political whiz who helped President Obama get elected.
The checks were issued by Jamad Limited, a company widely reported to be owned by Warner.
He is now apparently seeking to portray himself as a middleman, as if Blatter and FIFA had a huge interest in Trinidad and Tobago’s internal politics.
Back in 2010, few people were more keenly interested in the election than Warner himself. He was a candidate for parliament and a big-time backer of the then-opposition leader, Persad-Bissessar.
Campbell had landed in Trinidad in April 2010 to assist the opposition, which explains why the ruling party contrived to have him denied entry to the country. The government even sought to fine American Airlines for flying him in.
Ross Advertising is said to have nonetheless proven able to direct an Obama-style social media campaign that was instrumental in the opposition’s victory.
Warner became a member of parliament. Persad-Bissessar became the prime minister and made Warner the new interior minister, allowing him to serve as acting prime minister when she traveled outside the country.
Warner remained a member of FIFA’s executive committee as well as the head of CONCACAF, the governing body that oversees soccer in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Warner seems to have been a kind of genius at grabbing FIFA funds. He reportedly raked in millions for a soccer Center of Excellence built on land he owned. He is said to have scored millions more that were intended for everything from bonuses for the Trinidad World Cup team to the country’s allocation of World Cup tickets. He allegedly pocketed a fortune collected for earthquake relief in Haiti. A photo shows him arriving at the scene of the disaster shouldering half a case of bottled water.
Warner is also alleged to have taken millions in bribes for votes on which countries should host the World Cup. Court papers charge him with taking $10 million from South Africa.
He is further said to have accepted some $2 million in connection with Qatar’s successful bid. That money was paid to Jamad Limited in 2011, the Warner-owned company that paid out the money to the advertising firm that same year.
As minister of the interior, Warner would have been in a position to ensure that a Qatari representative had no trouble passing through customs in Trinidad with more than $1 million in alleged bribe money.
A chunk of that cash was divided into $40,000 batches and placed in manila envelopes, to be distributed to members of the Caribbean soccer association who were addressed by the Qatari representative.
One devoutly honest member was so shocked by the bribe attempt that he photographed the money and reported it to Chuck Blazer, the general secretary of CONCACAF. Blazer happened to be Warner’s prime partner in graft.
Blazer apparently understood that if he did nothing, the honest member was sure to go elsewhere. Blazer reported the bribe attempt to FIFA, declaring himself outraged. FIFA declared itself outraged and ordered an inquiry.
The inquiry diligently catalogued numerous misdeeds by both Warner and Blazer. Warner was expelled. A FIFA official made a pronouncement whose irony would only become apparent later.
“In the case of Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer this has far bigger implications than just [FIFA’s] Ethics Committee, or the rules of the game,” said Domenico Scala, the head of FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee, at a press conference. “There is sufficient suspicion that they have gone against the law and this will become an issue for the FBI and the IRS.”
Scala added, “So here the Ethics Committee and the world of FIFA stops; and people who have gone against the law will have to deal with the law.”
In Trinidad, Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar declared herself outraged and disowned Warner. He announced that he was resigning as both a minister and a member of parliament.
But in the very next breath he announced that he would be running to replace himself in that very same seat in parliament when the special election was held 90 days hence.
“The character assassination, the slander, the ridicule of my family, and the abandonment of longtime friends—in spite of the hurt, in spite of the indignities I have experienced, I stand here tonight void of hatred, animosity, or ill will for my political leader,” he insisted.
Warner ran as a candidate of a new political party he founded for that express reason and won.
“Thank you for this resounding victory,” he told the election night crowd.
Warner seems to have been seeking revenge against FIFA and Blatter in particular when he leaked a handwritten note to himself from the organization’s general secretary, Jérôme Valcke. It concerned a deal in which Warner paid $1 million for television rights for the 2010 and 2014 World Cup in the Caribbean region.
“Here is the agreement signed by the P [President Blatter]. This deal has not been through all normal boards or comm,” the note read. “Hence so I’m asking to make no publicity on it for the time being. Kind regards, Jérôme.”
Warner now suggested that Blatter had made the deal essentially to purchase Warner’s support in FIFA. Warner subsequently sold the rights, turning his $1 million into $20 million.
By then, Warner and Blazer had indeed reached the attention of the FBI and the IRS. Blazer agreed to become an informant, apparently telling all he knew about Warner, which was a great deal. Blazer also used a miniature microphone concealed in a keychain to record conversations with other FIFA officials.
Warner was among the 14 FIFA officials and associates past and present who were indicted. Blatter managed to get reelected, but then a letter surfaced from the South African Football Association to none other than General Secretary Valcke of FIFA. The letter asked that $10 million earmarked for South Africa instead go to a program that was founded by Warner.
Blazer had told investigators that Warner had received a $10 million bribe from the South Africans. Valcke is just a step away from Blatter, who suddenly announced his intention to resign less than a week after his reelection.
Warner was arrested in Trinidad and held overnight before being freed on bail. He arrived in parliament the following day apologizing for having missed the previous session.
“I was in prison,” he explained. “For charges I know nothing about.”
At a series of press conferences and appearances, Warner pledged to fight extradition to the United States and continue his present campaign for another term in parliament. He seems to think that reelection will make him less likely to end up in a Brooklyn courtroom facing 20 years or more.
Warner seems to have been seeking to score with his constituents as well as revenge himself on both Blatter and Persad-Bissessar by alleging that FIFA sought to influence the 2010 election in Trinidad through him.
“I cannot remain silent any longer!” Warner declared.
The Trinidad government said it was sending copies of the Jamad checks to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who had launched the FIFA investigation when she was the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn. Persad-Bissessar dismissed Warner’s allegations as fiction.
“I, Kamla, received no money from Jack Warner,” she told a local newspaper. “That is the God’s truth. I cannot speak to any contractual arrangement the gentleman would have had with Ross Advertising or any other advertising agency.”
By then, newspapers and sites around the world were announcing that Warner had promised to “tell all.”
Just watch out for what Jack Warner fails to say about Jack Warner.