Speak out on Jack
By Lara Pickford-Gordon Monday, July 30 2012
The Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) is calling on the public and interest groups in society to speak out on the allegations and information on the conduct of Minister of National Security Jack Warner, in relation to his tenure as a FIFA vice-president.
The PNM has called for Warner to be removed as minister.
Addressing a press briefing at Balisier House, Tranquillity Street, Port-of-Spain yesterday Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley likened Warner’s position that he would not comment on anything, akin to him (Warner) telling the PNM, media and country “to go to Hell, and he is above the law.”
He called for the TT Transparency Institute, the Inter-Religious Organisation, labour movement, TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce, TT Manufacturers’ Association, South Chamber of Industry, Law Association, West Indies Group of University Teachers, UWI Student’s Guild to comment. Rowley said, “at the end of the day we will know whether TT subscribes to that fundamental principle of morality in public affairs because the answer to that is desperately required at this time.” He said corruption came in many forms but the worst was facilitation of an environment when it is accepted as a way of life.
Rowley referred to evidence before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) that money was brought into TT and it was under the control of Warner, and noted Warner was accused of being “economical with the truth.”
He observed that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has remained silent on the allegations and is quoted in media reports as saying she stood by her ministers. Rowley said the CAS in reviewing FIFA documents found that Warner was operating a secret account. The CAS judgment which quashed FIFA’s lifetime ban on Mohamed bin Hammam said the account contained Caribbean Football Union (CFU) and Warner’s personal funds, and the CFU had no explanation for two cheques drawn on the account totalling US$455,000. According to Rowley, “any such account in which he had interest $1 or more immediately fell under the interest of the Integrity Commission and to not declare that would have been a crime.” He said an audit report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers from the Asian Football Federation stated that Warner received cash payments in 2008 and this should have been reported to the Integrity Commission. Rowley referred to the lead story in yesterday’s Newsday’s saying there were a “series of other allegations” on Warner’s declarations to the commission.
Warner has companies listed in the Company Registry which do not appear in the Integrity Commission’s register of interests including his directorship at Simpaul’s Travel and an interest in the Centre of Excellence, Macoya.
He said Warner has been the subject of “a cascade of allegations” which pointed to serious wrongdoing and in some instances criminal conduct. Rowley criticised Warner’s position that he would not respond or cooperate with investigations and publicly sought to downplay the importance of the allegations. Even “more troubling” is Warner’s decision not respond to any concerns raised by parliamentarians or citizens. Rowley said Warner as someone holding public office could not adopt such a stance.
“Mr Jack Warner holds the very important position of a minister of Government in Trinidad and Tobago and more importantly he holds the position of head of Cabinet, ie acting Prime Minister.”
Warner is subject to the Integrity in Public Life Act. “It is unacceptable for Mr Warner to hold public life and to take the position he is answerable to no one,” Rowley said.
On Saturday the General Council unanimously passed a resolution condemning Warner’s behaviour and calling for his immediate removal from the Cabinet “in keeping with the protection of the public interest”, TT’s international image, and the Government’s promise of good governance.
Rowley recounted the controversies surrounding Warner when he took office in 2010. His decision to hold on to the post of FIFA vice-president and president of Concacaf after he was appointed Minister although it was brought to the Prime Minister’s attention for him to remain on the FIFA executive would be a violation of the Code of Ethics of the Parliament. Then last year the issue of the foreign currency being brought into TT. Rowley said the PNM was not interested in FIFA’s business but was concerned about Warner’s posture that he was above the laws in TT.
Rowley said Warner had made a “career” of running away from investigations on his personal conduct. He said following the 1989 controversy with ticket sales (from the game involving the Strike Squad verus the United States) Warner chose not to cooperate with an enquiry to clear his name. “Recently this international fiasco took place at FIFA he took the position to run away from FIFA and not face his accusers and clear his name. We now have other allegations made against him with the potential to generate criminal charges he has taken the position again of not being interested and brushing it aside,” Rowley said.