Disgraced former FIFA vice president Jack Warner pocketed a $10 million (Dhs36.7m) payment made by South Africa through football’s world body, the BBC reported Sunday.
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Citing papers it has seen, the BBC said the 72-year-old Trinidadian laundered money through a supermarket chain, made cash withdrawals, paid off his credit cards and took personal loans from the sum.
US investigators suspect the $10 million was a bribe intended to secure votes so that South Africa hosted the 2010 World Cup.
South Africa says the money, paid in 2008, was intended to pay for football development for the African diaspora in the Caribbean, where Warner was the longtime football baron.
Warner has also denied any corruption. In three transactions — on January 4, February 1 and March 10 2008 — funds totalling $10 million were moved from FIFA’s bank into an account of Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) which was controlled by Warner, then its’ president.
The BBC said JTA Supermarkets, a large chain in Trinidad, received $4.86 million (Dhs17.85m). The money was paid in instalments from January 2008 to March 2009 and the largest payment was $1,350,000 (Dhs4.96m) paid in February 2008. US prosecutors say the money was mostly paid back to Mr Warner in local currency.
The documents also show $360,000 (Dhs1.3m) of the FIFA money was withdrawn by people connected to Mr Warner. Nearly $1.6 million was used to pay Warner’s credit cards and personal loans.
— Jeremy Vine (@theJeremyVine) June 7, 2015
The documents show the largest personal loan Mr Warner provided for himself was $410,000 (Dhs1.5m). The largest credit card payment was $87,000 (Dhs319,000).
Brent Sancho, Trinidad’s Sports Minister and a former international footballer, was appalled by the revelations.
“He [Mr Warner] must face justice, he must answer all of these questions. Justice has to be served,” he told the BBC.
“He will have to account, with this investigation, he will have to answer for his actions,” added Sancho, who played in all three of Trinidad’s matches at the 2006 World Cup finals.
“I’m devastated because a lot of that money should have been back in football, back in the development of children playing the sport. It is a travesty. Mr Warner should answer the questions.”
Warner has proclaimed his innocence since being arrested on May 29 at the request of US authorities who have sought charges against 14 top football officials and sports marketing executives.
Jack the bad! https://t.co/FITDvgcuqA
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 7, 2015
The former Trinidadian security minister is currently free on bail of $400,000 (Dhs1.47m) bail pending a decision in his extradition case.
Warner — still a powerful member of parliament in Trinidad and Tobago — has taken out paid advertisements in the Trinidadian media, published articles in local newspapers and held rallies with his Independent Liberal Party to defend himself.
The South African payment is a central part of a US case that FIFA officials took bribes totalling $150 million (Dhs550.9m) over two decades.
The US indictment alleged that bundles of cash in a briefcase were handed over at a Paris hotel as a bribe by a “high-ranking South African bid committee official”.
South Africa has strongly denied that it paid bribes to secure the 2010 World Cup — the first hosted in Africa and a key plank of Sepp Blatter’s pledges when he took over as FIFA president in 1998.
“We as a government and people managing the resources of the South African people — we did not share part of your resources with criminals, I am saying it now and forever,” South African sports minister Fikile Mbalula said at a hastily-organised press conference on May 28.
“The South African government and its people will not stand in any way of pursuing justice, criminality (and) fighting corruption in sport.”
The way FIFA can regain credibility is to implement reforms such as the International Olympic Committee did in the wake of the scandal surrounding the awarding of the 2002 Winter Olympics to Salt Lake City, IOC president Thomas Bach has told Sky News.
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The 61-year-old German added they must also address the allegations of corruption that has engulfed football’s global governing body.
The IOC had been rocked back in 1998 with accusations of members taking bribes for votes and resulted in several of their number being thrown out. Despite charges being brought against members of the Salt Lake City organising committee, none were found guilty.
IOC President Thomas Bach: `We highly respect this decision of President Blatter to step down & to initiate the necessary reforms.’
— Steve Wilson (@stevewilsonap) June 2, 2015
“It’s absolutely important for FIFA to regain credibility so I can only advise that they work hard at reforms and work hard on addressing these grave allegations,” Bach said.
“We had our difficulties 15 years ago and we did two things. We took swift action with regard to members, 10 members expelled or retired, and we undertook reforms.
“I am very proud that we elected athletes to the IOC, we have a system of accountability, strict rules on the election of host countries and we have even more reforms for transparency coming.”
Meanwhile, Martin Glenn, the new chief executive of the Football Association (FA), said England would not be a contender to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cups.
In the wake of the FIFA corruption scandal, culture secretary John Whittingdale had said England – who lost out to Russia for the 2018 edition – was ready to step in and host either one if they were taken away from the hosts.
However, Glenn rubber-stamped what his boss Greg Dyke had said on Friday about not hosting either tournament.
“We are really not interested,” Glenn said. “It has gone to Russia in good faith, they have not had a World Cup, why shouldn’t they play there, and 2022 was never going to be in Europe so it should be outside of Europe. So we support the World Cup being dispersed around the world, as the name suggests.”
He added: “We are very pleased that there is going to be change at FIFA, and we will work with UEFA and FIFA to make sure there is progress.”
Former FIFA Presidential contender Jerome Champagne discussed the ongoing crisis at football's world governing body.