By Jada Loutoo Wednesday, April 16 2014
The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) has filed a caveat against Independent Labour Party (ILP) political leader Jack Warner’s Centre of Excellence property in Macoya.
Newsday obtained copies of the caveat filed in the Registrar General’s Department on March 28, 2013, by CONCACAF by its local attorney Steven Michael Paul, of JD Sellier and Company.
The documents reveal that the football body is claiming equitable interests in three properties owned by Warner.
The caveat was to be served on Warner’s Renraw Investments Limited and First Citizens Bank, according to the documents.
In the caveat filed by CONCACAF, the body claims it provided funds for the acquisition of land and the construction of the Centre of Excellence to the tune of over $103 million (US$16 million).
According to the documents obtained by Newsday, these monies were provided “for the purpose of and in connection with its functions as the regional soccer federation for North and Central America and the Caribbean with the intention that the Centre of Excellence and the said lands on which it is constructed and all improvements thereto would be owned by CONCACAF.”
This move by CONCACAF effectively freezes the ILP leader’s ability to dispose of the Centre of Excellence, considered to be the crown jewel of Warner’s assets.
According to sources, the caveat effectively blocks Warner from mortgaging, leasing or selling the Centre of Excellence.
“Any prospective purchaser who does a title search on the property will discover the caveat which can only be removed by CONCACAF itself or a court order,” the source said.
Newsday was reliably informed that Warner had intentions of seeking a buyer on the international market for the Centre of Excellence and had been quietly holding discussions with a private international consortium for the sale.
It was following this that agents for the prospective buyer did a title search on the property when CONCACAF’s caveat was discovered.
Contacted by Newsday yesterday, Warner would only say it was CONCACAF’s right. Asked whether he was seeking an international buyer for the Centre of Excellence, Warner said he had nothing more to say.
Legal sources have revealed a multi-million dollar claim has been made by CONCACAF’s lawyers and is expected to be filed shortly as they seek to recover their interests.
In 2012, football’s governing body FIFA said Warner owned the Dr Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence.
At a football congress in Budapest in May 2012, CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb, who was recently in Trinidad, raised irregularities revolving around the ownership of the Centre of Excellence.
CONCACAF also said it had begun legal steps to recover the facility from Warner, who resigned in 2011 as CONCACAF president and FIFA vice-president amidst a bribery scandal involving alleged bribes-for-votes among Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials for FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam, who was expelled from his FIFA post.
It was alleged Warner got an unauthorised mortgage on the Macoya property in 2007. FIFA was also said to be joining legal action to regain ownership of the centre that it paid for.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter said at a news conference in May 2012, it was “now a problem that we are going to tackle”.
Warner claimed he had a letter which proved that the CONCACAF Centre of Excellence was a gift from Brazilian-born former FIFA president Joao Havelange (1974-1998) to the Caribbean Football Union, of which he was also former president.
The Centre of Excellence, named after Havelange, includes a swimming complex, a lavish garden sanctuary, a fitness centre, a 44-room hotel, an 800-capacity theatre, a banquet and reception hall, as well as several other meeting halls. The Marvin Lee Stadium is also part of the centre.
In a report commissioned by CONCACAF and presented to its congress in April, last year, Sir David Simmons, head of the body’s integrity committee, accused Warner and others of being “fraudulent in their management” of the football confederation’s affairs.
Simmons said Warner did not disclose to CONCACAF or FIFA that a US$25.9 million Centre of Excellence was built on land owned by his companies. “Approximately US$26 million of CONCACAF funds went into Centre of Excellence and that is no longer an asset of CONCACAF,” said Simmons.
The Integrity Committee reported that the centre in which CONCACAF invested at least US$25.9 million, some of which included loans from FIFA, was built on land owned by Warner privately and not the confederation.
“Warner represented to FIFA that funds would be used to support development but never told FIFA that centre would be situated on land owned by his companies,” said Simmons. “There is no evidence that Warner or anyone else ever disclosed to the CONCACAF executive committee or congress that lands on which the centre was built was owned by his companies,” he said.
Simmons said that in deals surrounding the centre, Warner “deceived persons and organisations” into believing the facility was CONCACAF’s and not his.