The football world was sent into deep shock waves early Wednesday
morning over news that some of the biggest officials in this part of the hemisphere have been indicted for racketeering and corruption resulting from over 20 years of investigation by law enforcement bodies in the United States.
Three of the persons come from one family in Trinidad and Tobago, father Austin “Jack Warner” and his two sons 46-year old Daryan Warner and 40-year old Daryll Warner.
Warner (SR) is a former President of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).
He was named in a 47-count indictment which was unsealed Wednesday morning in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, which charged 14 defendants with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies, among other offences, in connection with their participation in a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer.
The indictment of Warner (SR) should not be surprising despite his consistent denials of any wrong-doing.
“Jack” is known to be filthy rich and questions will always be asked about the manner in which he might have accumulated the funds over the years.
However, what should be of concern to us in Grenada is a release from the U.S indictment agency identifying one of Warner’s son who has already pleaded guilty, as having dual nationality – Trinidad & Tobago and Grenada.
There are reports circulating that when he was a teacher in the neighbouring twin island oil-rich republic that Jack Warner got married to a Grenadian woman who hails from the St. Patrick’s area.
It is in the interest of the authorities in Grenada to look into this matter of Warner’s son and his acquisition of Grenadian nationality since it raises some questions about our new passport selling scheme – the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme.
Grenada needs to ascertain that Warner (JR) did not become a national through the purchase of a passport since that in itself will bring into focus the integrity of the programme.
The other son (Daryll) was mentioned in the court documents as being a national of Trinidad & Tobago and the United States. No mention was made of him having Grenadian nationality. Is he also a Grenadian like the other brother?
A number of questions will naturally flow – when did Warner’s son become a national of Grenada, was due diligence done on him, who did it, which agencies were involved, did the FIU in Grenada engage the relevant agencies in the U.S like the FBI and Interpol to get their profiles on Warner’s son?
It might turn out to be nothing unusual with Daryan Warner getting his Grenadian nationality due to family ties and not controversially through the passport selling scheme.
However, there is a known link between the controversial Jack Warner and certain high-up officials within the ruling New National Party (NNP) government.
Speculation is rife that Jack Warner might have contributed financially to the NNP coffers over the years – similar to rogue characters like the late Van Brink, Rita Regala and the other infamous characters associated with First International Bank of Grenada (FIBG).
Is it any wonder that the OAS and other hemispheric bodies have been grappling for years with the vexing question of transparency with donations given to political parties contesting general elections.
The fear is that one of these days a government might be elected by the people but controlled by drug lords and racketeers.
It should not be easily forgotten that this is the same Jack Warner who was captured on camera a few years ago sitting in front of a table with a quantity of cash on it that was allegedly used to make payments to Caribbean football officials to secure their votes for a
candidate from the Middle East who was trying to unseat Sep Blatter as President of FIFA.
Another of the persons indicted was known to be very close to some of the top brass of the Grenada Football Association (GFA). And some of our own football officials were inside that particular hotel room in Trinidad when Warner was allegedly captured distributing the cash payments.
It is in Grenada’s interest to do its own investigation to make sure that the country’s image is in no way compromised by the unfolding events with respect to the latest indictments in the United States.
There is already suspicion that some local football bosses have been swimming in money due to their association with football at the regional and international level.
A few of the GFA officials have been busy in all sorts of travels – and cannot be seen often at their local offices and desk – as they engage in globe-trekking almost every other week on football business in which ever part of the world.
Let us be hopeful and optimistic that none of our people are indicted down the road as the US law enforcement officials have said that the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are possible.
World football cannot remain the same – FIFA has a major problem on its hand and needs to change the way it has been conducting business over the years.