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FBI/IRS trace Fifa funds to Africa
Ongoing investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have so far uncovered evidence showing the diversion of funds from one of Fifa’s main sponsors into the offshore accounts of a former senior Fifa official.
One of the accounts has been traced to an African country. Investigations, sources say, have also unearthed the inappropriate use of a credit card by a relative of the former official. The relative was held, questioned and subsequently released by US law enforcement in April last year, about to board a flight from Miami to Trinidad. Sources say the individual was questioned at length over several suspicious credit card transactions.
Explaining that large sums of money were placed on the cards, which bypassed the cards’ limits, the sources said several items were then purchased and, in some cases, cheques were made out to withdraw money from the credit card accounts and dispersed elsewhere. This sort of activity raised alarm bells from US officials, as the money placed on the cards could not be accounted for.
Sunday Guardian also learnt that another aspect of the case being investigated involved the handing-over of close to US$5 million to two Trinidadians by the representative of a contractor at a casino/hotel in Las Vegas. Both parties, sources say, met at the popular hotel and casino, where the money was handed over in return for favourable consideration in a major construction project here in Trinidad.
Sources said the manner in which the transaction was made drew the FBI/IRS’ attention to it. Both parties reportedly met at a game table and the representative of the construction firm reportedly purchased some gambling chits, placed a few bets at the table, then left the remaining chits with the Trinidadians and left the casino. The Trinidadians then cashed in the chits, which amounted to close to US$5 million, and deposited the money at a bank on the casino compound. The money was then wired to another account.
Since the transaction took place on US soil, FBI/IRS investigators have deemed it as a form of money-laundering. Both the FBI and IRS are investigating money-laundering, tax evasion and fraud matters. Earlier this month, international news agency Reuters reported that Daryan Warner, son of National Security Minister Jack Warner, was assisting the FBI and the IRS with an ongoing probe in the United States.
The article was written by Mark Hosenball and noted that “while the exact scope of the investigation is not clear, among the matters under scrutiny are two previously reported allegations involving Jack Warner. The deepening of the probe indicates that a succession of corruption scandals involving Fifa and other international soccer bodies in the past few years may continue to cast a cloud over the sport for some time.
Warner formerly headed Concacaf and was previously one of the vice-presidents of Fifa, soccer’s global governing body.” Following the report by Reuters, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar instructed Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran to enquire from the US authorities about the report. Ramlogan has indicated that he has written to US Attorney General Eric Holder but is yet to receive a response.
There have been calls for Warner’s removal in the wake of the report. However, Persad-Bissessar, in a media release, has indicated that she will not act until such time as she can verify the authenticity of the Reuters report.
US remains mum
Contacted on the matter, the US Department of Justice, which has responsibility for entertaining queries regarding the Office of the Attorney General Eric Holder, asked that the questions be e-mailed. Sunday Guardian complied but was subsequently informed there was no comment to be made.
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