Former Fifa vice president Jack Warner turned himself over to police in Trinidad and Tobago yesterday, shortly after they issued an arrest warrant at the request of authorities in the US, where he was one of 14 people linked to international soccer indicted on corruption charges.
Warner appeared in court, where a judge read 12 charges against him and then granted him $2.5 million bail on certain conditions, including that he surrender his passport and report to police twice a week. Warner did not enter a plea and is scheduled to appear in court again on July 12.
The attorney general’s office in Trinidad and Tobago said it had been working with the US Justice Department for about a year regarding the investigation of Warner, who was forced out of Fifa in 2011 over a bribery scandal.
Warner, who is an opposition member of Parliament in the twin-island nation, can be extradited to the US under a bilateral treaty following a hearing.
Earlier in the day, Warner denied any wrongdoing, as he has previously when confronted with allegations that he enriched himself while an official with the global soccer governing body and as a president of Concacaf, the federation’s North American regional organisation.
Warner, who left soccer in 2011 to avoid Fifa sanctions during that year’s presidential election, said he was not questioned in the investigation that led to the indictment and to guilty pleas on related charges for two of his sons.
Fifa had endured the darkest day in its scandal-strewn history after US investigators blew the lid on “rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted” corruption.
The football’s world governing body was plunged into crisis after a wave of arrests of football officials — including two FIFA vice-presidents — in Zurich on Wednesday on bribery, fraud and money laundering charges following an FBI investigation.
The US Department of Justice indictment of 18 people said bribes totalling more than $150m had been paid for television rights, sponsorship deals and World Cup votes.
In a separate development, the Swiss attorney general also opened criminal proceedings over the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, seized documents and electronic data from Fifa’s headquarters and will question 10 current Fifa executive committee members who voted on that tournament.
The arrests began at 6am as Swiss police swooped on the five-star hotel used by Fifa executives and arrested seven officials including Jeffrey Webb, a Fifa vice-president from the Cayman Islands who holds a British passport. Another Fifa vice-president Eugenio Figueredo from Uruguay was also arrested and Swiss officials said six of the seven are contesting extradition proceedings to the USA to answer indictments. US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said: “The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and in the US.
“It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.”
FBI director James Comey added: “As charged in the indictment, the defendants fostered a culture of corruption and greed that created an uneven playing field for the biggest sport in the world.”
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