CAS: Warner arranged ‘personal gifts’
Friday, July 20 2012
THE Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) found as a fact that National Security Minister Jack Warner arranged for members of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) to be offered US$40,000 in “personal gifts” after a meeting with former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam in 2011.
In a majority (2-1) decision announced yesterday, the CAS quashed a lifetime ban imposed on Bin Hammam by FIFA saying there was “insufficient” evidence to link him to piles of cash which were offered to CFU members at a meeting at the Hyatt, Port-of-Spain, in May 2011.
However, the CAS said it was “more likely than not” that Warner and Bin Hammam were in a collaboration which “may not have complied with the highest ethical standards that should govern the world of football and other sports.” CAS was at pains to point out it was not making a finding of innocence and criticised FIFA for not doing a comprehensive enough investigation into the allegations.
The CAS issued a press release summarising its ruling yesterday, but did not issue the full judgment. Warner, who resigned from FIFA in June 2011, was not before the CAS.
The CAS panel, comprising Jose Maria Alonso (Spain); Philippe Sands QC (UK) and Romano Subiotto QC (Belgium/UK), said it was quashing Bin Hammam’s life ban, but not because Bin Hammam was innocent but rather because “the FIFA investigation was not complete.”
It made two crucial findings.
“The CAS panel has established that Mr Bin Hammam invited Mr Warner to convene a special meeting of the CFU members with the purpose of offering Mr Bin Hammam an opportunity to make a presentation to the CFU delegates in view of the forthcoming election of the FIFA presidency,” the CAS said.
The other finding was that, “Mr Warner arranged for each of the members present to be offered a personal gift of US$40,000 and said that the gift was from the CFU. The following morning, at an urgent meeting, Mr Warner changed his story, telling those present that the gift was from Mr Bin Hammam.”
The CAS said the missing evidential link was something showing Bin Hammam had actually given the cash to Warner.
“The CAS panel has not been presented with any direct evidence to link Mr Bin Hammam with the money’s physical presence in Trinidad and Tobago; its transfer in a suitcase or otherwise to Mr Warner and its subsequent offer to the CFU members.”
Noting that banknotes had been photographed and presented in evidence, it argued that the failure of Bin Hammam to trace those banknotes in the proceedings had adverse consequences.
“The failure of Mr Bin Hammam to carry out that relatively simple exercise in the course of these proceedings might be explained by the fact that it would have confirmed that he was the source.”
The CAS, though it threw out the life ban, said “it is more likely than not that Mr Bin Hammam was the source of the monies that were brought into Trinidad and Tobago and eventually distributed at the meeting by Mr Warner and that in this way, his conduct, in collaboration with and most likely induced by Mr Warner, may not have complied with the highest ethical standards that should govern the world of football and other sports.”
It continued, “This is all the more so at the elevated levels of football governance at which individuals such as Mr Bin Hammam and Mr Warner have operated in the past.”
CAS said it was not making an affirmative finding of innocence.
“The panel wishes to make clear that in applying the law, as it is required to do under the CAS Code, it is not making any sort of affirmative finding of innocence in relation to Mr Bin Hammam,” CAS said. “The panel is doing no more than concluding that the evidence is insufficient in that it does not permit the majority of the panel to reach the standard of comfortable satisfaction in relation to the matters on which the appellant was charged.”
CAS hit FIFA for not doing a comprehensive enough investigation.
“It is a situation of ‘case not proven’, coupled with concern on the part of the panel that the FIFA investigation was not complete or comprehensive enough to fill the gaps in the record,” it said.
While Warner has called the ruling a “victory” and “vindication” the CAS hinted in its press release that this may not be the last of the allegations.
“The panel noted that FIFA was in the process of reforming its ethics committee and that, in the event new evidence relating to the present case was discovered, it would be possible to re-open the case, in order to complete the factual background and to establish if Mr Bin Hammam has committed any violation of the FIFA code of ethics.”