HINDS CALLS FOR INTEGRITY PROBE
By Andre Bagoo Sunday, July 29 2012
MINISTER of National Security, Jack Warner, faces fresh questions in the wake of a Sunday Newsday’s investigation which has established that property and private company positions linked to him in public records, do not appear on the register of interests at the Integrity Commission for the year 2010.
According to the Integrity in Public Life Act, persons in public life, such as Warner, are meant to declare their assets and interests to the Commission, which is the watchdog body for public officials. Alongside declarations, persons in public life are required to tell the public what their assets and interests, including directorships in companies, are. A list of these interests is placed on a register of interests that is available to the public for inspection.
But checks by Sunday Newsday have revealed several interests listed in public documents at the Companies Registry for the year 2010 do not appear on the Integrity Commission’s register of interests. These include Warner’s:
- directorship at Simpaul Travel Services Limited, a company which was paid to arrange a meeting of Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials in Trinidad in May 2011;
- apparent interests in the Centre of Excellence, Macoya, through two family companies;
- directorship and shareholding of a company called CCAM and Company Limited , which also holds a part-interest in the Macoya property.
In relation to Simpaul, Warner is listed in Companies Registry documents as being a director. However, that directorship is not listed on the register of interests at the Integrity Commission for the year 2010, a year for which he is listed in a company annual return as a director.
Last year, in response to an exclusive Sunday Newsday story revealing he was then still listed as a Simpaul director, Warner denied being a director. However, he was unable to explain how Company Registry documents listed him as such. Up to last week, however, Warner was still listed in Company Registry documents as a director of Simpaul.
Warner and his family had stepped down as directors of Simpaul in March 2006, the year of the World Cup in Germany and around the same time the company was investigated by FIFA after it was revealed that tickets for the 2006 World Cup were channelled through the company. Warner, however, was subsequently cleared by the FIFA Ethics Committee. By August 2009, Warner and his family quietly returned as directors. (See Page 4A)
Before he quit FIFA last year, Warner was allowed to maintain his ministerial portfolio simultaneously with his FIFA vice-presidency amidst great controversy, given the fact that ministers, in line with an ethical code and convention, are made to give up private business when entering Cabinet office.
Former FIFA presidential candidate Mohammed bin Hammam has claimed Simpaul was paid $2.3 million ahead of his May 2011 visit to Trinidad, a specific claim denied by Warner, who has said the amount paid was less. (He did not deny a payment.)
Warner’s assets and interests for the year 2010 were the most up-to-date listing available at the Integrity Commission last week. Other interests and directorships do not show up on the register.
At a press-briefing he called at the Ministry of National Security’s offices at Temple Court, Port-of-Spain, on July 19, Warner admitted to reporters that Joao Havelange, the former FIFA president, had “bequeathed” the Centre of Excellence, located at Macoya Road, Tunapuna, to “the Caribbean and to the Warner family.” He said the land had originally been bought by Concacaf and “one of the companies of the Warner family”.
According to legal documents, the property has been owned through Warner’s family companies Renraw Investments Limited and CCAM and Company Limited. Warner is listed in 2010 documents as one of two shareholders and directors of CCAM and Company Limited. The other shareholder of CCAM and Company Limited is Renraw and the other director his wife, Maureen. In relation to Renraw, Warner is listed in 2010 company documents as a shareholder and director of the company alongside wife Maureen and son Daryan. Checks with the Integrity Commission last week showed that no interest in the Centre of Excellence property is listed among lands in which Warner has declared an interest for the year 2010.
No interest is declared through himself or through any ties to “the Warner family”, including through his wife. Further, Warner’s shareholding and directorship of CCAM and Company Limited are not listed on the register. Only Warner’s shareholding and directorship of Renraw are listed.
Last week, the question of what assets Warner has owned and declared to the Integrity Commission arose in the wake of a 56-page written judgment of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). That ruling revealed Warner ran a secret US-dollar bank account into which he mingled personal and football funds, to the tune of at least $2.8 million.
“There is ample evidence that Mr Warner ran a secret US dollar bank account in which he co-mingled CFU and personal funds,” the CAS found in the case in which it quashed a FIFA life ban against bin Hammam.
“Two cheques were drawn on this account in the sum of US$455,000 and paid …There is no evidence that any accounting or explanation has been given to the CFU of the reasons for these large payments.”
By letter last Thursday, Fitzgerald Hinds, an Opposition Senator, wrote the Integrity Commission calling on it to probe the CAS disclosure of the existence of the secret account which, if containing personal funds, must be declared to the State and the public at large.
“It has now come into the public domain that the member of Parliament at subject, Mr Jack Warner MP, is the holder of a US dollar account and that several co-mingled personal transactions were effected by Mr Warner from this account,” Hinds said in a letter to the Integrity Commission Registrar Martin Farrell, a copy of which was obtained by Sunday Newsday.
“I call upon you to conduct an investigation in order to justifiably determine whether this account exists and whether it has been declared to your commission by Mr Warner, in compliance with the law that you administer in the public interest.”
Just three days prior, Hinds wrote the Commission asking them to probe whether Warner had declared ownership of the Centre of Excellence.
“Within the very recent past, Mr Jack Warner, in response to the media’s questions about the ownership of the Centre of Excellence situated at Macoya Road, Tunapuna, told the country that the said Centre was bequeathed to the Caribbean ‘and the Warner family’,” Hinds observed.
“He claimed that he had a letter to show that Mr Jao Havelange, former president of FIFA, made this gift. I call upon you … to conduct an investigation in order to determine whether Mr Warner’s assertion above led to his declaration of this asset. Further, I call upon you to also investigate whether this property yielded income, for example by way of rental, and whether this income has been declared in accordance with the law.”
By a letter of the same date, Hinds also sought similar action in relation to reports of a PricewaterhouseCoopers report which has claimed bin Hamman made a US$250,000 payment to Warner from funds of the Asian Football Union.
“I call upon you to indicate whether this gift was indeed a gift within the meaning of the Integrity in Public Life Act,” Hinds wrote to Farrell.
“I also call upon you to determine whether this receipt was declared by Mr Warner as is required under the said act.”
Warner did not answer calls last week. Questioned by reporters on Friday in relation to the CAS ruling that he held a secret bank account, he did not deny holding such an account, but also did not answer the direct question.
“I am not prepared to answer anything on football. I have accepted my peace. FIFA has spoken, the courts have spoken. I have work to do here. FIFA is not a country. It is not a constituency,” Warner said at a ceremony to launch a river dredger.
“I am finished talking about FIFA and football. Ask me about politics, ask me about the Government, ask me about my constituency, about the dredge out there.”