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Bribery claims stack up against disgraced former Fifa VP Jack Warner

Warner, a former schoolteacher and Trinidadian justice minister who has been indicted by the US authorities on corruption charges, has denied all the allegations against him.

sports Updated: Jun 07, 2015 19:39 IST
Fifa corruption scandal,Jack Warner,Sepp Blatter

Disgraced former Fifa vice president Jack Warner was accused on Sunday of asking Egypt for a $7 million bribe for votes to host the 2010 World Cup, as allegations piled up against the man at the heart of the corruption scandal engulfing international football's governing body.

The BBC also claimed that the 72-year-old Trinidadian pocketed a $10 million payment made by South Africa through Fifa which was intended to pay for football development for the African diaspora in the Caribbean.

Warner, a former schoolteacher and Trinidadian justice minister who has been indicted by the US authorities on corruption charges, has denied all the allegations against him. But he has emerged as a key figure in the scandal that erupted last month as one of 14 current or former Fifa officials and sports marketing executives accused by US prosecutors of taking part in a sweeping kickbacks scheme going back 20 years involving a total of $150 million in bribes.

The scandal, which also involves a Swiss probe into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively, has led to the resignation of veteran Fifa boss Sepp Blatter last week, just four days after his re-election for a fifth successive term.

In the latest allegation against Warner, former Egyptian sports minister Aley Eddine Helal said Warner asked Egypt in 2004 to pay a $7 million bribe in exchange for seven votes to host the 2010 World Cup. "Warner was the one who approached us from Fifa. He said he could guarantee us seven votes... He asked for one million dollars for each vote," claimed Helal, who on Thursday told an Egyptian TV channel that Warner's offer had been rebuffed.

Egypt, one of the countries dominating African football, was a candidate to host the 2010 World Cup, but it received no votes in the 2004 Fifa ballot and South Africa was eventually chosen to host the tournament, held in Africa for the first time.

'Laundered the payment'

The BBC, citing documents it has seen, also said on Sunday that Warner laundered the payment from South Africa through a supermarket chain, made cash withdrawals, paid off his credit cards, and took personal loans.

US investigators suspect the $10 million was a bribe to help secure the 2010 World Cup for South Africa. But South Africa says the money, paid in 2008, was intended to pay for football development for the African diaspora in the Caribbean, where Warner was the longtime football baron.

In three transactions in 2008, funds totalling $10 million were moved from Fifa's bank into an account of Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) which was controlled by Warner, then its president.

The BBC said JTA Supermarkets, a large chain in Trinidad, received $4.86 million paid in instalments, while nearly $1.6 million was used to pay Warner's credit cards and personal loans.

Trinidad's Sports Minister Brent Sancho, a former international footballer, said he was appalled by the revelations. "He (Warner) must face justice, he must answer all of these questions. Justice has to be served," said Sancho, who played in all three of Trinidad's matches at the 2006 World Cup finals.

'A travesty'

"I'm devastated because a lot of that money should have been back in football, back in the development of children playing the sport," Sancho told the BBC, describing the revelations as a "travesty".

Warner was arrested on May 29 at the request of US authorities and is currently free on bail of $400,000 bail pending a decision in his extradition case. Warner, still a powerful member of parliament in Trinidad and Tobago, has taken out paid advertisements in the Trinidadian media, published articles in local newspapers, and held rallies with his Independent Liberal Party to defend himself.

The South African federation issued a statement on Sunday denying the accusations levelled at them by another disgraced former Fifa executive Chuck Blazer. In testimony released by the US justice department on Wednesday, the former North American football supremo claimed he and other Fifa executives agreed to accept bribes during bidding for the 1998 and 2010 events.

South Africa has strongly denied that it paid bribes to secure the football extravaganza -- the first hosted in Africa and a key plank of Blatter's pledges when he took over as Fifa president in 1998.

"We categorically deny that this was a bribe in return for a vote," the South African federation said. "It belittles the hard work done by Madiba (Nelson Mandela), Archbishop Tutu, the South African Government and numerous others who sacrificed their time and money and family lives to make our country proud! It tarnishes their images in the most unscrupulous manner."

First Published: Jun 07, 2015 19:08 IST