Warner And Hammam: Guilty As Charged?

The BBC has obtained a document authored by the Carribean Football Union (CFU) detailing claims that Jack Warner had full knowledge of and participated in the distribution of cash bribes to members of the CFU at a special meeting promoting Mohamed Bin Hammam’s Fifa presidential bid.

In a report by the CFU general secretary Angenie Kanhai, on CFU headed paper and dated 15 July 2011, has now been submitted to the FIFA ethics committee that is investigating claims that Bin Hammam tried to bribe members of the CFU with gifts of £40,000 each. Kanhai has travelled to Zurich, where the hearing is taking place, and, crucially, was expected to give evidence on Friday.

Warner, Bin Hammam and two CFU officials, Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester, refused to co-operate with Fifa’s ethics committee investigation, carried out by former FBI director Louis Freeh. So the apparent co-operation of such a senior figure at the top of the CFU – Warner was effectively Kanhai’s boss – is a significant development.

In a series of bullet points, signed by Kanhai, a detailed account is given of what happened during the meeting of the CFU at the Hyatt Hotel, Trinidad on May 10-11. The document states:

“I was directed to coordinate the special meeting of the CFU by Mr Jack Warner, who was at that time, president of the CFU. Mr Warner initially requested the meeting be held by April 18, 2011, but the May date was ultimately agreed.

“The purpose of the special meeting was to provide Mr Bin Hammam with the opportunity to address the delegates from the CFU.

“On May 10, 2011, Mr Warner advised me that he had gifts, which were to be distributed to the delegates. Mr Warner did not tell me what the gifts were, but advised that they were to be distributed from the Hotel (sic) that afternoon. After consulting with my staff, Jason Sylvester and Debbie Minguell, I suggested to Mr Warner that the gifts be distributed between 3PM and 5PM that day.

“During the morning session on May 10, Mr Warner made an announcement to the attendees about picking up the abovementioned (sic) gift. I was told that I should come to his office to collect the gifts that were to be distributed.

“I arrived at Mr Warner’s office at approximately 2.30PM on May 10 and collected a locked bag with the key in the front pocket.

“The bag contained 26 envelopes, these envelopes were unmarked and were folded and sealed. I did not see any envelopes opened and left Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester to distribute the envelopes.

“The next day I met Debbie and Jason for breakfast at the hotel and they advised me that the envelopes had contained cash.”

“In speaking with the representative from the Bahamas I was advised that he had returned the envelope. The representative from the Turks and Caicos returned the envelope to Ms Minguell on the morning of May 11 2011.

“After the meeting I was contacted by Mr Warner who asked that the bag and any remaining gifts be returned to him.”

Jack Warner has had all charges against him dropped after he agreed to resign from FIFA and completely withdrew from football. And while Hammam continues to protest his innocence – claiming that FIFA had pre-decided his guilt and he wouldn’t get a fair hairing – it’s the following comment made by Jack Warner that is most illuminating (and damning):

“It’s not unusual for such things to happen and gifts have been around throughout the history of Fifa. What’s happening now for me is hypocrisy.” – Jack Warner, speaking on 20 June 2011.

Warner is 100% correct on the first part – FIFA’s history is riddled with nepotism and bribery, gifts of money and power used to curry favour and votes across the world by various FIFA presidents – but this isn’t hypocrisy – it’s one man being hung out to dry for collaborating with the enemy, Warner’s own greed (and attempt to undermine Blatter) being rewarded with a formal investigation until he agreed to go quietly.

In the same statement, Warner also said:

“I am convinced that since my actions did not extend beyond facilitating the meeting that gave Mr Bin Hammam an opportunity to pursue his aborted bid for the Fifa presidency, I would be fully exonerated by any objective arbiter.”

What he didn’t say was that if any objective arbiter knew the full facts, not only Warner but everyone involved in the higher echelons of FIFA would now be in jail.

While the report shows a clear chain of command between Warner and the officials who allegedly distributed the money, it does not prove a direct link between the cash and Bin Hammam. Leaked details of Freeh’s report into the affair concluded that although there is no smoking gun there is “convincing circumstantial evidence” that he was behind it.

When the story first broke, there was a lingering suspicion that Blatter and Warner had set Hammam up, and in the process staged Warner’s exit from FIFA. That may still be true, although Hammam’s history suggests that he’s not as clean as he portrays himself to be. But then again, who is at FIFA?

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