THE REVELATION that the FBI is investigating FIFA should bring an end to three decades of institutional corruption, personified in recent times by President Sepp Blatter. I have been talking with Special Agents from the Organised Crime and Racketeering Section of the Department of Justice in Washington and with an FBI Organised Crime squad from New York since they contacted me seeking evidence nearly three years ago.
Law enforcement sources in New York and Washington confirmed today that they are investigating “a major case” involving allegations of corruption at FIFA. The probe is into allegations of fraud and bribery. It began in the North, Central American and Caribbean regional football confederation but the money trail leads back to FIFA’s HQ in Zurich, Switzerland. Unofficial sources have confirmed that Daryan Warner, eldest son of disgraced former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner of Trinidad, has become a co-operating witness with the FBI probe. Warner jnr has been resident in Florida for the last two months and clearly is not free to leave America. It has yet to be divulged what evidence the FBI have on him but it is likely to be substantial and enough to make him break family confidences in return for serving less jail time.
Daryan Warner was always the ‘back office’ money-man organising the laundering and concealment of bribes and profits from every kind of illicit football activity by his father – siphoning off grants, dealing in World Cup tickets and pocketing substantial bribes from countries hoping to host the World Cup. Warner frequently worked in concert with fellow FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer from New York:
The FIFA career of Jack Warner began to unravel in May 2011 when he was caught with $1 million in bribes, in envelopes each containing $40,000 in cash, for distributing to Caribbean football associations. The aim was to persuade them to vote for Qatar’s Mohamed Bin Hammam who was contesting the FIFA presidency against incumbent Sepp Blatter. Blazer ‘ratted’ on Warner to FIFA but was himself soon engulfed in documented corruption allegations
- Here is today’s Reuters story “EXCLUSIVE: FBI has cooperating witness for soccer fraud probe“
Where will the FBI investigation go next? For a start, they are not alone. For 18 months there have been parallel investigations by America’s tax authorities, the Internal Revenue Service. The secret probes range from Port of Spain to Trump Tower to Cayman, Paradise Island to Miami, Zurich to Zug and much further to the Gulf. They have co-operated with police in London and Switzerland.
The industrial-scale thieving of Warner and Blazer is woven into the fabric of FIFA. Repeatedly, the gruesome duo were encouraged to plunder grants and World Cup tickets. In return they delivered votes to keep Blatter in power. Football lovers must dream that the G-Men will find reasons to extend their investigations into Issa Hayatou’s African empire and the rest of FIFA.
As the FBI spreads its net, FIFA officials in Zurich should be seeking advice from their personal lawyers about what to say if the Feds come knocking. If they have handled corrupt payments authorised by Blatter or General Secretary Jerome Valcke, they may find it wise to follow Daryan Warner’s example and become collaborating witnesses rather than risk extradition and jail.