Exclusive: FBI has cooperating witness for soccer fraud probe: sources

Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:57pm EDT
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By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An FBI probe into alleged corruption in international soccer has recently intensified after investigators persuaded a key party to be a cooperating witness, U.S. law enforcement sources said.

They said that the witness is Daryan Warner, the son of former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner. The sources declined to further discuss the role of Daryan Warner, who could not be reached for comment.

They also would not say who might be charged, if anybody, or when. While the exact scope of the investigation is not clear, among the matters under scrutiny are two previously reported allegations involving Jack Warner, who is currently national security minister in his native Trinidad and Tobago.

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.

Jack Warner was formerly head of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), as well as previously being one of a number of vice-presidents of FIFA, soccer's global governing body. He has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Since at least the summer of 2011, the FBI has been examining more than $500,000 in payments made by the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) over the past 20 years to an offshore company headed by top U.S. soccer official Chuck Blazer. That was a period during which Jack Warner was also head of the CFU, a position he held from the early 1980s until 2011.

The precise reasons for many of those payments is unclear. In 2011, Blazer said that the payments were meant to be repayments to him by Warner of "a significant amount of money" which Blazer said he loaned to Warner in 2004. Warner told the media in Trinidad that the payments were above board.

The Internal Revenue Service has joined in the investigation, which is looking into potential violations of U.S. tax laws and of U.S. anti-fraud statutes, including laws prohibiting wire fraud and mail fraud, law enforcement sources said.   Continued...

Suspended FIFA executive member Jack Warner talks to journalists at the lobby of a hotel in Zurich in this file photo taken May 30, 2011. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files