Former FIFA vice president and government minister Jack Warner may have lost his challenge to his extradition to the US to face a barrage of fraud-related charges, but he still has some fight left in him.
On Thursday, Warner received the Privy Council’s decision on his challenge and said, in an immediate response, it was “unfathomable” for a US district attorney to start a prosecution against him “based solely on the fact that monies payable to me passed through the American banking system.”
Warner said he has no bank account or property in the US, nor has he done any business there.
“Furthermore, it is incredulous (sic) that allegations of misconduct arising out of a FIFA meeting held in Trinidad could be prosecuted in the US whereas, in Trinidad itself, it does not constitute criminal activity.”
On Thursday, five Privy Council judges – Lords Hodge, Briggs, Hamblen, Burrows, and Sir Declan Morgan – held that the extradition process, so far, was not unfair.
Warner has not yet given up.
“I have lived in this country for nearly 80 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,” he said in a statement early on Thursday.
Extradition proceedings at the magistrates’ court in Trinidad were stayed pending his legal challenges, and Warner said he has advised his attorneys to continue to press the remaining stages of the extradition proceedings.
Apart from the magisterial court proceeding, which is expected to resume now that the Privy Council has ruled, Warner can challenge that outcome in the courts.
A third tier of the matter, which Warner alluded to in his statement, includes making submissions to the Attorney General, who has a final statutory decision to make before any TT national can be extradited, Newsday was told.
Warner challenged the process by which the extradition proceedings against him were being carried out and sought to quash the authority to proceed (ATP) signed by the Attorney General in September 2015.
This was after the US asked for the former football jefe to be extradited to face some 29 charges of fraud, corruption, and money laundering. The request was made on July 24, 2015.
After the 2015 general election, then-attorney general Faris Al-Rawi offered to allow Warner to make representations, but only on the condition that the deadline for receipt of the ATP would be extended with his consent.
Warner refused to agree to the condition. His attorneys said he was not given sufficient time to make representations, nor was he given disclosures of any evidence the US intended to use to secure his extradition.
The ATP gave the magistrate the green light to begin committal proceedings.
Warner surrendered to Fraud Squad officers on May 27, 2015, after learning of a provisional warrant for his arrest.
After the ATP was signed giving the go-ahead for extradition proceedings to start, FIFA banned Warner from all football activities for life.
He and 13 other FIFA officials were indicted in the US. Warner was also head of Concacaf.
In the US charge sheet against him, Warner is accused of racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering, and bribery; and allegedly, from the early 1990s, he “began to leverage his influence and exploit his official positions for personal gain.”
He also allegedly accepted a million-dollar bribe from South African officials in return for voting to award them the 2010 World Cup, and allegedly bribed officials with envelopes of cash.
He was one of 14 people charged in connection with a 24-year scheme to allegedly “enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer.”
On Thursday, Warner said FIFA was an independent association not affiliated with any government or country.
“At all times it sought, in the interest of football, to offer opportunities to the widest cross-section of the international community to host the World Cup.
“Particular attention was paid to developing countries who have been denied economic opportunity partly because for long periods they were under colonial domination.”
He said FIFA gave preference to South Africa, Russia, and Qatar to host the World Cup finals.
Warner said, “Naturally, the USA and the UK who had previously hosted the World Cup were not selected despite sustained lobbying.
“They were therefore not pleased and thereafter began a campaign against FIFA which resulted in the arrest and prosecution of several executive committee members of FIFA who had assembled for a meeting in Zurich.”
Warner said 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.
“TT is therefore an outlier,” he said on Thursday.