Warner cleared of bribery allegations

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, May 29, CMC – Former vice president of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and a senior member of the coalition Trinidad and Tobago government, Austin “Jack” Warner, has been told that he has no case to answer with respect to allegations of bribery purported to have taken place here last year during the campaign for the FIFA presidential elections.

“On the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), no further action can be taken in this matter,” Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs informed the Police Service Commission on March 21.

He said the matter which was alleged to have occurred on or about May 10, 2011, was investigated by the police and the DPP advised the matter can proceed no further.

The PSC has since informed Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley by letter dated May 7.

In an immediate reaction Warner told television viewers that he was he was happy and felt vindicated while praising Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar for showing confidence in him.

There had been several calls for the Prime Minister Persad Bissessar to dismiss Warner from the Cabinet after the bribery allegations first surfaced.

“There are so many things that are more important in the country. There is so much work to be done that I can’t worry about foolishness. I said from day one that there is nothing in the matter and I maintain that. “But there are forces out there that are trying to recreate something from time immemorial and there is nothing that they can recreate,” he said, adding that the entire allegation was part of “a deliberate campaign designed to demonise me by those who were opposed to me”.

Last May, Warner invited the heads of various Caribbean football associations to meet with FIFA presidential candidate Mohammed Bin Hammam here and at that meeting several of the delegates reported that over one million (US) dollars had been distributed to them in brown envelopes.

In June 2011, the Opposition wrote Commissioner Gibbs about the possible breach of the laws of Trinidad and Tobago, including the Exchange Control Act, the Customs Act and generally the criminal law relating to bribery.

The move by the Opposition followed the suspension of Warner and Bin Hammam by the FIFA Ethics Committee based on allegations that they were involved in a bribes-for-votes campaign.

A secret report by FIFA’s Ethics Committee, which was published in England’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, noted there was “comprehensive, convincing and overwhelming evidence” to support claims that Warner and Bin Hammam colluded to pay the bribes.

Warner and Bin Hammam were suspended from FIFA pending the completion of the scheduled hearing of the Ethics Committee, but Warner subsequently resigned and his charges were dropped while Bin Hammam was found guilty and banned for life from FIFA.

Rowley, responding to the position of the DPP told reporters “the DPP has to rely on the police to conduct an investigation into any matter. The DPP has no investigative power and it is only what the police put before the DPP that he can act on. And clearly what was put before the DPP has caused the matter to end in this way”.

Rowley said the public is also unaware whether the minister implicated in the matter had been interviewed or whether the police have interviewed persons who were witnesses to the alleged offence and who provided testimony in other proceedings in another jurisdiction.

He said the public was therefore not in the position to determine whether the investigation into this matter represented the best of the country’s Police Service and whether it represents the only outcome into this matter.