T&T: Warner resigns from Parliament
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Apr 26, CMC – Former national security minister Austin “Jack” Warner Friday dismissed an opposition motion that sought to take Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar to task over her continued support for the former global football executive, insisting that his private affairs had nothing to do with the activities of the government of Trinidad and Tobago.
“The motion is to embarrass the prime minister,” said an emotional Warner, adding “at the end of the day, I have nothing to say…my private activities are mine”.
“I breached no law in Trinidad and Tobago, not a single law,” Warner said, insisting that “every criticism, every allegation against me has been in the public domain for the last 20 years”.
Warner, 70, who resigned from his Cabinet post over the last weekend and announced his resignation from the Parliament on Friday, dismissed suggestions that FIFA, the world governing body of which he was once served as vice president for nearly two decades, was a mafia establishment.
“I want to apologise for him saying FIFA is a mafia,” Warner said to desk thumping from his government colleague legislators, insisting “FIFA business has nothing to do with the business of the state”.
Earlier, Opposition Leader, Dr. Keith Rowley, said the report of the CONCACAF Integrity Committee, headed by prominent Barbadian jurist Sir David Simmons, highlighted what had been in the public domain for several years regarding the activities of the former government minister.
In its report, released in Panama last weekend, the CONCACAF Integrity Committee slammed as “fraudulent in their management” the conduct of the soccer confederation’s affairs by Warner, who headed the body for 20 years, and American Chuck Blazer, who served as general secretary.
Neither Warner nor Blazer cooperated with the investigation.
But in a statement, Warner described the report as “baseless and malicious” and repeated his position on Friday saying that only three pages of the 114 report dealt with him.
“I have never been involved in any corrupt activity in FIFA or CONCACAF,” Warner said.
Rowley told legislators that the Prime Minister, whom he said had preferred to pay a state visit to Canada rather than remain home and defend the motion, had also failed to adequately deal with the image of a country that had produced many prominent people.
“We did not have to shirk,” he said when the names of those international prominent people were linked to Trinidad and Tobago.
But he said that has not been the case with Warner, adding that he was disappointed at the refusual of Prime Minister Persad Bissessar to “act expeditiously” in safeguarding the image of the oil rich twin island republic.
He said Warner even acted as Prime Minister and that his business brought into question the standard and value of all of the people in Trinidad and Tobago.
Rowley said that the response of Warner to all the overwhelming evidence against him “has always been one of bland dismissal, outrage and bombast.
“We can’t be encouraged to accept that yesterday was yesterday,” he said, in reference to recent public remarks by Warner, adding “when you put him in the cabinet you knew he was crooked as a corkscrew”.
Rowley he was also calling on the government to submit a copy of the CONCACAF report to the police and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) given the fact that public funds had been made available to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF).
“I was duped,” Rowley said, noting that he had been part of the government in 2006 that had provided millions of dollars to the TTFA.
“I accepted the state of play until I saw a lawsuit going through the courts where persons could not account for funds given to the TTFA,” he told legislators.
As he did less than 24 hours at a public meeting in his Chaguanas West constituency on Thursday night, Warner again outlined the “good deeds” he had done for the country as a member of FIFA and CONCACAF, blasting the opposition inspired motion ‘as a waste of time”.
He told legislators that he had failed to meet with the CONCACAF Integrity Committee because he had not been paid his US$90,000 pension by FIFA.
“Those who resigned before me and those who resigned after me, they got their pension and I ain’t asking them,” he said.
“I ain’t talking to you (Sir David) at all. Give me my pension and I will sing if they want,” he said, noting “how could you have an inquiry without speaking to a CONCACAF president who served for 20 years…”.
Warner said he had put Trinidad and Tobago “on the world map” reminding legislators that no other small country had participated in a World Cup tournament.