Fraud claims ‘baseless’
By Jada Loutoo Thursday, August 15 2013
FORMER FIFA vice-president and Concacaf president Jack Warner has made good on his threat to initiate legal action against the regional football body and the author of its Integrity Committee Report, former Barbados Chief Justice Sir David Simmons.
Warner, through his attorney Keith Scotland, issued pre-action protocol letters to Concacaf head offices in Miami, via registered mail, and to Simmons at the July 1990 attempted coup Comm-
ission of Inquiry secretariat on Monday.
The Chaguanas West MP and interim political leader of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) is demanding an unqualified public retraction of all the allegations made against him in the Simmons report.
This apology, according to the eight-page pre-action protocol letter, is to be released to the international media and placed on the World Wide Web.
Warner is also demanding that the allegations made in the report be never repeated nor should similar allegations be made and has asked that substantial damages be paid to a charity of his choice “to demonstrate the baselessness of the allegations and to compensate... for the injury to his reputation, financial loss and the considerable distress that he has suffered.”
Warner’s attorney has also asked that his client’s legal bill be paid. Concacaf and Simmons have 28 days in which to respond to the pre-action letter.
According to the letter, Warner was described by his lawyer as “one of the foremost leaders of the development of football in the region and was recognised across the world as someone who had done more than anyone to develop the game of football in the Concacaf region.”
Scotland said his client was well known locally, regionally and internationally.
The letter complained about certain defamatory statements contained in the Concacaf Integrity Committee report of investigation dated April 18.
Chief among the complaints were all and every statement contained in the report which accused Warner of fraudulent conduct with regard to the development of the Centre of Excellence and Concacaf operations in TT;
• all and every statement contained in the report which accuses Warner of misappropriation of funds with regard to the development of the Centre of Excellence and Concacaf operations in TT;
• all and every statement contained in the report which accuses Warner of breaching his fiduciary duties to Concacaf in connection with Concacaf operations in TT through fraudulent conduct;
• all and every statement contained in the report which accuses Warner of violating FIFA Ethics Code by engaging in self-dealing through fraud in connection with Concacaf operations in TT and all and every statement contained in the report which accuses Warner of fraudulent conduct in connection with Concacaf’s financial statements and audits.
The letter said the statements made and published about Warner were understood to mean that he committed the criminal offence of fraud against Concacaf and FIFA; committed the criminal offence of larceny by stealing funds; participated and/or acquiesced in criminal activity; is dishonest, a fraudster, a criminal and is not to be trusted. Scotland said the statements and allegations complained of were entirely false and malicious.
Scotland also noted that Concacaf and Sir David ought to have known that any allegation of criminal fraud on Warner’s part “should have been proven beyond reasonable doubt.”
“However, in the report, you have deliberately made your most damning findings of criminal culpability on a balance of probabilities,” Scotland said.
“My client therefore, in light of your numerous clear allegations of fraudulent and criminal conduct, which were also highlighted in the report’s executive summary, can only conclude that you were actuated by a desire to castigate, malign, convict and punish my client by the publication to the world at large of your findings of fact.”
Scotland also noted that the report, commissioned by and paid for by Concacaf, had the appearance of targeted judgment for Concacaf and could not be described as independent.
“The publication of such defamatory statements has caused and continues to cause my client numerous professional and personal embarrassment, distress and vilification and has adversely affected his professional and political career,” the lawyer wrote.
Also representing Warner are British Queen’s Counsel Andrew Mitchell and instructing attorney Asha Watkins-Montserin.