Warner loses appeal, will keep fighting
Port Of Spain, Trinidad – Former vice-president of football’s world governing body FIFA, Austin ‘Jack’ Warner on Thursday lost his fight, at the Privy Council, against extradition to the United States on corruption charges, but has vowed to keep fighting.
The court in London, Trinidad and Tobago’s highest appeal court, dismissed Warner’s lawyers’ contention that the extradition proceedings were unlawful. This paves the way for the proceedings in the twin-island republic’s magistrate court to resume.
Warner had challenged the procedure of the extradition proceedings – following the US request, on July 24, 2015, for him to face charges of wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering – as well as the authority to proceed (ATP) granted by the Attorney General in September that year which gave the court the authority to begin the proceedings.
Warner, who also served as CONCACAF president, was indicted in May 2015. US prosecutors allege that from as far back as 1990, he leveraged his influence and exploited his official positions for personal gain.
Among other things, the 79-year-old former football administrator is accused of receiving $5 million in bribes – sent via more than two dozen separate wire transfers, from 10 different shell companies, to a Caribbean Football Union account he controlled at Republic Bank in Trinidad and Tobago – to vote for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup.
Warner was one of 14 defendants charged in connection with the 24-year scheme that prosecutors alleged was designed to “enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer”.
In 2015, FIFA banned him from all soccer-related activities for life.
“I continue to have confidence in my team led by Fyard Hosein Senior Counsel, and I have advised them to continue to press my case on the three remaining stages of these proceedings,” Warner said in a post on his Facebook page on Thursday morning, following the Privy Council ruling.
“I have lived in this country for nearly eighty years, and I am confident that I will continue to receive the love, affection, and respect that people from all walks of life have always extended to me. I am certain I will prevail in the end.”
“I note that several European countries, including France and Switzerland, several Latin American countries, including Brazil, and several African and Middle Eastern countries have refused to extradite their citizens. Trinidad and Tobago is therefore an outlier,” Warner said.
“I have no banking account nor property in the United States. I have not transacted any business there. It is unfathomable how a New York District Attorney could commence a prosecution against me based solely on the fact that monies payable to me passed through the American banking system. Furthermore, it is incredulous that allegations of misconduct arising out of a FIFA meeting held in Trinidad could be prosecuted in the United States whereas, in Trinidad itself it does not constitute criminal activity,” he added.
Attorney General Reginald Armour said the law should be allowed to take its course.
“As Attorney General, I am able to assure the citizenry of this Republic that in Trinidad and Tobago the rule of law and due process are alive and well and, the law must now be allowed to take its course,” Armour said. (CMC)