Wed, May

Former FIFA Vice President, Jack Warner

FORMER FIFA vice-president Austin Jack Warner says he has no doubt that the “nightmare” brought upon him by the United States government, which accused him of bribery, money laundering and other fraud-related crimes during his time as an executive of football’s governing body, is now over.

His comment came following a ruling in the United States Supreme Court last week Friday in which the court held that prosecutors in the US overreached their boundaries when they applied laws of the United States to groups of people, many of them being foreign nationals, who allegedly defrauded FIFA, another foreign organisation, with its headquarters based in Switzerland.

“My lawyers have told me that my nightmare is over and I have every reason to believe what they have said. They are now working to pursue the matter further to see what redress I am entitled to. They have told me that my nightmare is over because the Supreme Court is not a court that you can appeal against. It is the final court in the US,” Warner said yesterday.

He was speaking during an interview on radio station i95.5FM, with sports commentator Andre Baptiste.

The radio station is a member of One Caribbean Media (OCM), which also includes the Express and CCN TV6.

The New York Times reported on January 27 that the Supreme Court last year limited a law that was key to the FIFA case. Last September, a federal judge, citing that law, threw out the convictions of two defendants linked to football corruption.

Now, several former football officials at FIFA, including some who paid millions of dollars in penalties and served time in prison, are arguing that the bribery schemes for which they were convicted are no longer considered a crime in the United States.

They are now seeking to have all their fines repaid, and also be compensated for the time they were made to spend in prison.

Overstepping boundaries

During the interview with Baptiste yesterday, Warner said he always knew that the US government was over-stepping its boundaries.

“I am in full agreement with the Supreme Court matter. I always knew that the US was wrong to attack and destroy FIFA and destroy people’s lives and so on just because they did not get a World Cup venue. It is utterly ridiculous for people to be imprisoned and to be charged being a member of a private organisation as FIFA and to be charged by the US government for what they did or did not do to stay in FIFA.

“I always knew that was an overreach, (an) overkill and I think the Supreme Court has justified what my thoughts have been in the matter,” said Warner.

Warner is currently facing extradition proceedings in this country to be sent to the United States to face the criminal charges he allegedly committed.

The proceedings are expected to come up for hearing sometime later this month in the Port of Spain Eighth Magistrates’ Court.

However, given the ruling of the US Supreme Court, the extradition warrant that was issued by the US government in 2015 may be discontinued.

“I am feeling relieved. My life has been destroyed, my family’s life has been destroyed and I have spent tonnes of money on this matter. All I did was to tell FIFA that it is time to change the paradigm of giving the World Cup to Europe and South America. I said to them, ‘just go to the Middle East’.

“It is this that has caused me to be where I am today. The irony is that people in the Middle East, thanks to my efforts and others, Qatar (which hosted the World Cup in 2022) has produced one of the best World Cups this world has ever seen. So, I feel vindicated in a sense for what I have done, but the price that I have paid for that is overbearing,” said Warner.

He added that another issue he wanted to raise was the millions of dollars of taxpayers’ funds the State had spent paying attorneys to have him extradited to the United States.

“The US government wants to have me extradited to the US, then the US should engage lawyers here and spend their own money and not taxpayers’ money of which part is mine.

“Here you have a government of Trinidad and Tobago spending taxpayers’ money to try to get a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago sent to the US.”

Warner said his attorneys had sent a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Office of the Attorney General to determine exactly how much funds had been dispensed to attorneys up to the date of the request to have him extradited.

The State, he said, only provided some of the information.

It revealed that at least $7.5 million had been spent.

“They said they could not release the rest of information. That has forced us to take the AG to court and we have engaged the AG in the matter because we feel that a full revelation must be made to the people of this country of what the Government has spent on a trial to get its citizen extradited to another country,” said Warner.

SOURCE: T&T Express