Uncle Jack, The FBI and The Smoking Gun

Jack Warner is truly the gift that keeps on giving. The Telegraph reports that they have seen some documents which are currently in the hands of the FBI - emails and bank records mostly - which prove that former CONCACAF President Jack Warner and his sons received more than two million dollars from Qatari interests in late 2010 and early 2011.

The story (hat tip to BigSoccer stalwart Placid Casual) says that the FBI has a "note" from Jamad (one of Warner's companies) to Kemco (one of Bin Hammam's) dated just two weeks after the vote which awarded World Cup 2022 to Qatar that requests a payment of $1.2 million be made “payable to Jack Warner” for unspecified "professional services".

Another document reportedly shows a payment of $412,000 to Warner's son Daryll, $316,000 to his son Daryan and $412,000 to a Warner employee.

The documents show that a company owned by Mohamed Bin Hammam, the Asian Federation President and a Qatari national, did subsequently pay $1.2 million to Mr Warner early in 2011.

Interestingly, Warner apparently attempted to process the money through a bank in the Cayman Islands where, despite the fact that they basically have no banking laws at all, they nonetheless found the whole thing so legally questionable that they refused to have anything to do with it.

The Telegraph says that Warner was able to find a bank in New York that was willing to accept the transfer of his behalf, but it would seem likely that this is why the FBI started looking at it.

If so, Warner was either pretty stupid or wildly arrogant. He didn't want to deposit it in his own country - where he was a cabinet minister - for fear of detection, and the world capital of sleazy money wouldn't touch it so he sent it to New York, home of very stringent cash transfer regulations and thousands of people who make their living rooting out financial crime? Hard to fathom.

Of course the whole story of the FBI delving into the affairs of the Warner family has been discussed in this space previously.

At that time Jack's boy Daryll was reportedly in federal custody and Daryan had had his US passport revoked, essentially stranding him in Miami. Yesterday's report confirms that Daryan is fully cooperating with investigators from the FBI, ICE, the US DoJ and last but certainly not least the IRS in an effort to save himself some prison time.

(And is this somehow connected to the recent out-of-the-blue lawyer-threat I received regarding all of this? Were they trying to intimidate people prior to this information becoming public? If I could locate Attorney Erick Simpson I'd love to ask him but he seems to have vanished. Erick, if you're out there, please get in touch; your Mom and I are concerned.)

The status of the sealed indictment against Warner is not mentioned, but it's noteworthy that former globe hopper Jack hasn't set foot outside of Trinidad in over three years.

It's great to see these details emerging since they show, among other things, that the FBI is still on the case and has some serious ammo.

Less clear is whether The Telegraph's assumptions about the purpose of these particular payments are correct.

They are positing that the money was paid in return for Warner's vote for Qatar over the US - a nation in his own Confederation - for World Cup 2022, and suggest that this may be the smoking gun FIFA investigator (and US attorney) Michael Garcia has been looking for in his ongoing inquiry into that bidding process.

Well maybe, but that's not the way to bet.

First of all, while we know that Qatari agents were scampering around the globe offering whatever inducements the voters wanted - commercial contracts, swapped votes or simple cash - all of that activity, as one might expect, went on before the vote.

Bribery is a slippery business and most guys want the cash up front since afterwards there's no recourse. The courts are amazingly unsympathetic to complaints of unpaid graft.

Additionally, it would be surprising if Bin Hammam was involved. He was only marginally involved in the Qatari bid process, which was handled by that nation's Sports Authority and financed directly from government coffers.

As President of the AFC he had to maintain a Chinese Wall between himself and the bid process.

Besides, while he himself is a rich man, compared to the Emir of Qatar he might as well be a street beggar. So why would he either be providing money - or even processing payments - to Warner?

It seems much more likely that this was payment in return for Warner's support for President of FIFA.

The fact that Bin Hammam flew into T&T with a bag containing a million dollars in US $100 bills intended to buy the votes of CFU delegates has long been known. (Except by the T&T government, whose "investigation" into the blatantly illegal open-and-shut smuggling of undeclared and untaxed money into that country is now in its fourth year and shows no signs of concluding).

Left unexplained has always been the question of what Jack Warner got out of the deal, and what the FBI has looks an awful lot like the answer.

Sadly though, it probably doesn't matter in terms of Qatar 2022 anyway.

FIFA itself has confirmed that whatever Ethics investigator Michael Garcia ends up reporting, no matter how much dirt they uncover or how directly it points to massive Qatari skudugery, it just doesn't matter. Apparently they are just being nosy or something.

Quixotic FIFA Presidential candidate Jerome Champagne is making a big deal out of the fact that the registration documents for World Cup 2022 specified a June/July tournament, which is simply not going to happen regardless of how many Mothership-sized floating air conditioners they build, but everybody knows and nobody cares.

Others are suggesting that the 2015 FIFA General Congress will save FIFA's face by voting to overturn the 2010 vote, but it will take more than a few murky documents linking Jack Warner to illegal money to get Sepp Blatter to allow that to happen.

The fact is that, like everything else, these latest revelations against Uncle Jack change nothing.

But they sure are entertaining.