By C McKinley Fahie
Did Horace Burrell, Harold Taylor, Jack Warner and Jeffrey Webb sell out Caribbean football for self enrichment, social advancement or just plain old greed?
Near the beginning of the 161-page United States Department of Justice (DOJ) indictment, a telling sentence offers a glimpse of what is to come. It says that the FIFA officials and the other defendants, who mainly worked for large sports marketing companies which sold the rights to tournaments, conspired with one another to co-ordinate schemes “involving the solicitation, offer, acceptance, payment, and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments, bribes, and kickbacks”.
They were able to get away with it by using a series of “trusted intermediaries” –including bankers, financial advisors and currency dealers – to facilitate illicit payments, the document says. They also used shell companies and bank accounts in tax havens, smuggled cash in bulk and made use of safe deposit boxes.
This is an article about the devastating impact of four of the persons who robbed Caribbean football blind.
Let’s go down memory lane for just a bit and try to fully understand.
Burrell calls for unity within CFU after Jack Warner resigns in disgrace after the FIFA “bribes for votes” scandal
June 11, 2011:
President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and acting president of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), Captain Burrell, has expressed profound regret at the resignation of Jack Warner from all his international positions in football, describing the Trinidadian as a “football visionary and extraordinary leader”.
“I am indeed saddened by the departure of Mr Warner, who has given football so much, both at the regional, confederation and international levels. I don’t believe there is another, who can truly fill the void that he will leave in his wake. It was Warner’s tireless work in the vineyard that guaranteed the growth of Caribbean football,” Burrell said yesterday.
“We hope that as this outstanding Caribbean man leaves the field of play of a sport that I know he loves dearly, that he will be remembered firstly for his advocacy for the small footballing nations of the Caribbean and indeed his revolutionary thinking that has seen the fast expansion of CONCACAF into a respectable confederation,” the Jamaican added.
Soon after Horace Burrell was also banned by FIFA for his role in the same bribery scandal but he rebounded.
Burrell was implicated in the allegations of Caribbean football officials accepting bribes to vote in favor of Mohammad bin Hammam for the 2011 FIFA presidential race against president, Sepp Blatter.
He was suspended for six months, leaving Webb, his close friend and business partner, who was voted in unanimously, to take hold of the post.
January 16, 2012:
*Capt Horace Burrell: head of Jamaica’s FA, banned for six months in 2011’s Fifa bribery scandal – and now named as CONCACAF’s new head of legal and finance.
Top of Burrell’s list of tasks: monitoring the confederation’s “financial management, compliance and integrity”.
Also new for Burrell – a series of other appointments last week as he makes a cautious comeback to the football family:
Chair of CONCACAF’s statutes and regulations committee, chair of their national associations committee, vice-chair of the beach football committee, the club championships committee, the competitions group of committees, the futsal committee, the national events committee, the women’s committee, the youth championships committee and the Olympics committee – plus overall CONCACAF vice-president, elected unopposed.
March 26, 2012:
*Jeffrey Webb, Cayman Islands football chief, has accepted the nomination for president of CONCACAF.
The announcement came on Saturday following a week where support increased for the experienced administrator to take over the helm of the continental governing body for football in North, Central America and the Caribbean.
To date, Webb’s nomination has the backing of 25 of the 40 member countries, with support from all three CONCACAF zones.
“I am humbled by the tremendous outpouring of support and encouragement received from so many of the member countries,” Webb said.
“It is this unity of the CONCACAF that will champion our success and, if elected, it is my intention to build on that unity through collaboration, transparency, integrity, engagement and accountability.”
*Many endorsements for Jeffrey Webb
Only last week, Costa Rican Football Federation President Eduardo Li endorsed Webb to lead the organisation, saying he possessed all the right qualities for the job.
Jamaica Football Federation President Captain Horace Burrell had also endorsed Webb late last month.
Webb will bring over 20 years of administrative experience to the position if he is elected at the May 23rd CONCACAF Congress in Budapest, Hungary.
He currently serves as chairman of the CONCACAF Youth Committee and is also deputy chairman of FIFA’s Internal Audit Committee and a member of its Transparency and Compliance Committee.
Webb is also the chairman of the Caribbean Football Union’s Normalisation Committee, established last year following the cash-for-votes scandal which rocked the Caribbean and resulted in FIFA bans for several regional administrators.
May 23, 2012:
Jeffrey Webb elected President of CONCACAF
CONCACAF had regained credibility, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said, after Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Island Football Association was elected president of the troubled confederation.
Webb, 47, the president of his country’s FA, takes over from the disgraced Jack Warner, the former FIFA vice-president for the region that incorporates North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Webb, in his opening address, drew applause when he said: “Our past will never be repeated.”
Webb did not ignore the troubles of the past, adding: “We must move the clouds and allow the sunshine in.
“It is a new day for CONCACAF, a new chapter. Our past will not define us, we will define our future and we must decide our destiny.
“We have a great confederation that represents 540 million people who rely on you and me to provide hope and that is what our game is.
“We have a responsibility to make sure the past will never be repeated.”
May 27, 2015:
*Jeffrey Webb was one of the FIFA officials arrested on corruption charges in morning raid as Swiss police open criminal investigation as a dozen plainclothed officers descended on the five-star Baur au Lac hotel, where officials had gathered for Fifa’s annual meeting.
The arrests were made on behalf of US authorities, after an FBI investigation that has been under way for at least three years. The US Department of Justice said authorities had charged 14 officials, nine of whom are current or former FIFA executives. Those arrested in Zurich face extradition to the US.
“They were expected to uphold the rules that keep soccer honest. Instead they corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests and enrich themselves,” said the US attorney general, Loretta Lynch, at a news conference in New York. “They did this over and over, year after year, tournament after tournament.” Events tainted by corruption included the award of the 2010 World Cup to South Africa and the 2011 FIFA presidential election, she said.
The arrests on behalf of the US authorities form part of an international investigation into bribes worth $100m (£65m) spanning three decades. The allegations date back to the 1990s and involve “the acceptance of bribes and kickbacks”, Swiss officials said.
FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb, of the Cayman Islands, was among those arrested. He is the head of FIFA’s North American regional body, known as CONCACAF, which reported itself to US tax authorities in 2012.
The organisation had not paid taxes for several years when its president was Jack Warner.
*Burrell to concentrate on his businesses” after Jeffrey Webb arrested in Zurich, Switzerland as part of FIFA Corruption Probe
“That (business) is what puts food on my table and, therefore, I’m not thinking about anything (else) now. I wish everyone well, but I have to also think about my thing,” said Burrell, CEO of The Captain’s Bakery and Captain’s Aviation Services.
Burrell a long-time CONCACAF vice-president and FIFA executive, who has close linkages with Warner and Webb, said he had no fear he would be implicated in the investigation.
August 2009 to August 30, 2018:
*Warner seeks and gets bribe from Australia Football Federation.
*In 2009 as Australia’s tilt for glory was gearing up, at the request of Warner, Australia paid for the Trinidad under-20s team to travel to Cyprus to play a match. Australia sent a delegation in August 2010 to check out the Marvin Lee stadium and meet Warner.
Only a month later, after the government’s AusAID agency refused to pay $500,000, FFA transferred its own funds in September.
The same month, Warner travelled to nearby Jamaica as the FFA’s Hargitay and national teams boss John Boultbee signed a pledge for Australia to fund sport programs in the Caribbean.
As Warner lurked in the shadows, seated next to the FFA officials at the signing ceremony was Jamaican Football Federation president “Captain” Horace Burrell.
Years later an April 2013 CONCACAF financial report concluded that Warner “committed fraud and misappropriated funds that were sent by Football Federation Australia to CONCACAF”.
*Jack Warner – was accused of alleged “fraudulent management” during his time at Concacaf, and the misuse of football aid money, which he denies.
*Jack’s verdict: “I don’t give a fig, and who wants to write let them write. I don’t care. The time will come when we will deal with them. I will hit them with hurt.”
*He was indicted by the US authorities and they are seeking his extradition to face the charges. Jack Warner is appealing his extradition to the United States to date.
*Warner ran CONCACAF (the regional governing body covering soccer in the Caribbean and North and Central America) as a fiefdom for 21 years and he faces a charge relating to a $10M bribe that bought his vote in favor of South Africa hosting to 2010 World Cup Finals.
*The indictment alleges that corruption is ‘rampant, systemic and deep-rooted’ both abroad and in the United States. Investigations led to many guilty pleas and the remaining persons charged with racketeering and corruption are waiting to be sentenced or are fighting extradition to date.
How did this band of black brothers sell out Caribbean football?
*Webb was director of Jack Warner’s Cayman company J&D International (JDI), which obtained World Cup TV rights and sold them for millions
*Burrell was a business partner of Mr Webb’s at the Captain’s Bakery restaurant in the Cayman Islands.
*J&D International was set up in May 1995 by Warner and was used to sell the 2002 World Cup TV rights for the Caribbean region for $4.25 million to the Caribbean Football Union, an organization that Warner controlled at the time as its president.
Cayman Islands Grand Court documents show that Webb was a director of J&D International.
“J and D International Limited” was struck off the company register on Dec. 31, 1997. The company was then restored to the register on Sept. 5, 2005, after Webb submitted an affidavit as J&D International’s director, and the company paid outstanding fees of $7,906.70. The company’s registered office was changed at the same time from Dr. Roy’s Drive to the address of Webb’s attorney Waide DaCosta’s law firm.
The company was again struck off the register on Oct. 29, 2010. The TV rights agreement between Cayman-based J&D International, also referred to as JD International or JDI, and the Caribbean Football Union states that KirchMedia WM GmbH, the official licensee of all World Cup media rights at the time, assigned the rights for the Caribbean to Warner’s JDI on Aug. 28, 2001. JDI sold those rights to the Caribbean Football Union for $4.25 million on Dec. 10, 2001.
*The contract was signed by Warner and Harold Taylor on behalf of the Caribbean Football Union and witnessed by Esther Dubarry, a corporate secretary of several of Warner’s private companies. Warner was president of the CFU at the time and Trinidad football official Taylor was effectively his employee.
It is not clear how much Warner and J&D International benefited from the transaction, but FIFA general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen condemned in a confidential FIFA report in 2002 that Warner had received TV rights for the 1990, 1994 and 1998 World Cups for “one dollar” from then-FIFA president Joao Havelange.
The 2002 World Cup rights had previously been handed to a Warner competitor, Caribbean Satellite Television Network. Due to circumstances unknown, KirchMedia canceled the contract amid legal wrangling and handed it to Warner’s J&D International instead.
J&D International also sold the 2006 and 2010 TV rights for the largest sporting event in the world to Sportsmax for a rumored $8 million and $10 million each.
Instead of handing the 2010 and 2014 World Cup TV to a sports marketing company, FIFA assigned the rights to the Caribbean Football Union, which sublicensed them to J&D International.
In 2011, following Warner’s resignation from all football activities amid bribery allegations, FIFA stripped the 2014 World Cup TV rights from J&D International and voided a deal with the original media rights licensee CFU, stating it had not agreed to the Caribbean Football Union sublicensing the rights to the company.
In 2011, an alleged $1.2 million bribe payment from the unsuccessful contender for FIFA presidency Mohamed bin Hammam to Warner was sent to J&D International’s bank account in Cayman, but returned by the bank as US investigators noted “at least one bank in the Cayman Islands initially refused to process the payment amid fears over the legality of the money transfer.”
Because the payment by bin Hammam’s Qatar-based company Kemco was also refused by US banks, $1.2 million was eventually paid directly into Warner’s personal bank account in Trinidad “to offset professional services provided over the period 2005-2010.”
Warner and his son Daryll Warner were the two shareholders of “JD International.” Warner’s American and Grand Cayman accounts are thought to be under close focus and one of his sons was a cooperating witness. This was confirmed on May 27, 2016 when US courts unsealed the indictment of Warner’s sons Daryan and Daryll, and one of the sons was revealed as a co-conspirator in the complaint against seven FIFA officials.
Both Warner sons have since struck plea deals and admitted wire fraud and money laundering violations.
*Warner was replaced as CONCACAF leader and FIFA vice-president by Jeffrey Webb, once a business partner of Burrell’s in a Cayman Islands branch of the Captain’s Bakery and Grill restaurant chain.
*Warner allegedly failed to send roughly US$690,000 meant for Haiti after the devastating Port-au-Prince earthquake.
*The United States DOJ alleged that, in the case of the Caribbean’s World Cup TV rights, Warner would first pocket his bribe, which lessened the commercial value for all the member associations in the region.
Then, he would split the television money and give roughly half to the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) and the rest to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF).
Then, Warner would take the entire share allotted to the TTFF and let his own football body request a measly slice from the CFU’s pie instead.
Then, when the TTFF did get its ration, he would use his post as TTFF “special advisor” to have the local football use from its meagre television money to pay to use the Marvin Lee Stadium – which was built from TTFF Goal money also hijacked by Warner – or for rent, catering, cleaning, security and a host of other things from Warner-owned companies.
Buying real estate in the United States
*Jack Warner withdrew funds from a CONCACAF-affiliated account to purchase a Miami condo in 2005 which was held in a family member’s name.
*Jeffrey Webb owns several residences across Georgia, allegedly received a wire transfer to fund a new pool at his home in Loganville in 2012. He also allegedly received wire transfers to purchase a home in Stone Mountain.
*FVF (Venezuelan Football Federation) President Rafael Esquivel and FIFA executive Eduardo Li also own several properties in South Florida.
Here’s a list of the properties.
1.) 2116 Adel Drive, Loganville, GA.
Six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, 9,851 sf
2.) 5119 Madeline Place, Stone Mountain, GA.
Three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, 1,725 sf condo
3.) 7222 Lake Crossing, Stone Mountain, GA.
Five bedrooms, three bathrooms, 2,846 sf
4.) 104 Ellis Drive, Conyers, GA.
Three bedroom, 2.5 bathrooms, 1,518 sf
5.) 808 Brickell Key Drive Apt #1204 Miami, Fla.
One bedroom, two bathrooms, 790 sf condo
6.) 18067 NW 74th Court, Hialeah, Fla.
Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, 1,105 sf townhouse
7.) 18061 NW 74th Court, Hialeah, Fla.
Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, 1,105 sf townhouse
8.) 18055 NW 74th Court, Hialeah, Fla.
Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, 1,105 sf townhouse
9.) 18049 NW 74th Court, Hialeah, Fla.
Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, 1,105 sf townhouse
10.) 18043 NW 74th Court, Hialeah, Fla.
Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, 1,105 sf townhouse
11.) 8450 SW 149th Avenue Apt #805 Miami, Fla.
12.) 8660 SW 149th Avenue Apt #201 Miami, Fla.
Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, 1,055 sf condo
13.) 8660 SW 149th Avenue Apt #209 Miami, Fla.
Three bedrooms, thee bathrooms, 1,420 sf condo
Tax Havens and Offshore Accounts
*Costas Takkas, a UK citizen who acted as attaché to FIFA’s vice-president, Jeffrey Webb, used a firm called Kosson Ventures, registered in the BVI and with bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, to allegedly facilitate illegal payments between a South American sports marketing agency, Traffic, and FIFA officials.
“On or about November 21, 2012, two wire transfers, of $750,000 and $250,000, were sent from Front Company A’s account at HSBC bank in Hong Kong to a correspondent account at Standard Chartered Bank in New York for credit to an account in the name of Kosson Ventures, controlled by Takkas, at Fidelity Bank in the Cayman Islands”.
A $500,000 payment to Webb was made by Traffic “through the account of another individual, a business associate of Co-Conspirator #2, to another account controlled by the defendant Costas Takkas at Fidelity Bank in the Cayman Islands”.
In 1999, “Traffic caused $200,000 to be wired to a correspondent account at Barclays Bank in New York, for credit to an account held in the name of an entity controlled by Co-Conspirator #1 at Barclays Bank in the Cayman Islands.”
In 2012 Webb emerged as a candidate to succeed Jack Warner as president of CONCACAF, the federation representing the North and Central American and Caribbean footballing nations. According to the US authorities, “an executive at Traffic USA supported Webb’s candidacy by causing $50,000 to be paid from Traffic USA’s operating account to a Caymanian company” controlled by Takkas.
Some of the money channelled through Britain’s tax havens was allegedly funnelled into property. Takkas transferred funds from his Kosson Ventures account at Fidelity Bank in the Cayman Islands to SunTrust Bank in the US, allegedly to help Webb buy luxury homes in Stone Mountain, Georgia. The use of Kosson Ventures in the scheme was “intended to conceal the fact that the defendant Jeffrey Webb was the beneficiary of the payment”, according to the US prosecutors.
The Cayman Islands also played a role in a bribery scheme to allegedly persuade Fifa officials to vote for the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa. Warner is alleged to have promised one official $1m in return for his backing South Africa. It is claimed that “the first payment in the amount of $298,500 was made by wire transfer sent on or about December 19, 2008 … to a Bank of America correspondent account in New York, New York, for credit to an account controlled by Co-Conspirator #1 at a bank in the Cayman Islands”.
“By pocketing so much of the cash generated by the sport through marketing rights, financial assistance programs, and sponsorship these men deprived the Caribbean national teams, youth leagues, referees, coaches, support staff, grassroots, and other development programs of what was rightfully theirs.”
Shame. Shame. Shame on them all.