Friday, 22 July 2011 19:43 UK
By David Bond BBC sports editor
The BBC has obtained a document detailing claims that Jack Warner handed a senior Caribbean football official a locked case containing envelopes of cash to be distributed to members of the Caribbean Football Union at a special meeting promoting Mohamed Bin Hammam’s Fifa presidential bid.
The allegation is contained in a report by the CFU general secretary Angenie Kanhai. The two page document, on CFU headed paper and dated 15 July 2011, was prepared for Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke but was to be sent via the CFU’s executive committee.
It is understood this document has now been submitted to the ethics committee investigating claims that Bin Hammam tried to bribe members of the CFU with gifts of £40,000 each. Kanhai has travelled to Zurich, where the hearing is taking place, and, crucially, was expected to give evidence on Friday.
Warner, Bin Hammam and two CFU officials, Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester, refused to co-operate with Fifa’s ethics committee investigation, carried out by former FBI director Louis Freeh.
So the apparent co-operation of such a senior figure at the top of the CFU – Warner was effectively Kanhai’s boss – is a significant development.
In a series of bullet points, signed by Kanhai, a detailed account is given of what happened during the meeting of the CFU at the Hyatt Hotel, Trinidad on May 10-11. The document states:
«I was directed to coordinate the special meeting of the CFU by Mr Jack Warner, who was at that time, president of the CFU. Mr Warner initially requested the meeting be held by April 18, 2011, but the May date was ultimately agreed.
«The purpose of the special meeting was to provide Mr Bin Hammam with the opportunity to address the delegates from the CFU.
«On May 10, 2011, Mr Warner advised me that he had gifts, which were to be distributed to the delegates. Mr Warner did not tell me what the gifts were, but advised that they were to be distributed from the Hotel (sic) that afternoon. After consulting with my staff, Jason Sylvester and Debbie Minguell, I suggested to Mr Warner that the gifts be distributed between 3PM and 5PM that day.
«During the morning session on May 10, Mr Warner made an announcement to the attendees about picking up the abovementioned (sic) gift. I was told that I should come to his office to collect the gifts that were to be distributed.
«I arrived at Mr Warner’s office at approximately 2.30PM on May 10 and collected a locked bag with the key in the front pocket.
«The bag contained 26 envelopes, these envelopes were unmarked and were folded and sealed. I did not see any envelopes opened and left Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester to distribute the envelopes.
«The next day I met Debbie and Jason for breakfast at the hotel and they advised me that the envelopes had contained cash.»
It’s not unusual for such things to happen and gifts have been around throughout the history of Fifa. What’s happening now for me is hypocrisy
Jack WarnerSpeaking on 20 June 2011
The report goes on to say:
«In speaking with the representative from the Bahamas I was advised that he had returned the envelope. The representative from the Turks and Caicos returned the envelope to Ms Minguell on the morning of May 11 2011.
«After the meeting I was contacted by Mr Warner who asked that the bag and any remaining gifts be returned to him.»
Although Bin Hammam, Minguell and Sylvester all face being banned from football following the ethics committee hearing, all the charges against Warner were dropped last month after he resigned from Fifa and his powerful positions in Caribbean football.
Witnesses from some of the 25 CFU associations offered money have stated that the idea of giving cash gifts originated with Warner. But despite giving up his football posts he has repeatedly denied direct involvement in the bribery plot.
In a statement dated 20 June, Warner said: «I am convinced that since my actions did not extend beyond facilitating the meeting that gave Mr Bin Hammam an opportunity to pursue his aborted bid for the Fifa presidency, I would be fully exonerated by any objective arbiter.»
Kanhai’s account of events in Trinidad suggests then that Warner was more implicated in the bribery scandal than he has previously admitted.
But while the report shows a clear chain of command between Warner and the officials who allegedly distributed the money, it does not prove a direct link between the cash and Bin Hammam.
Leaked details of Freeh’s report into the affair concluded that although there is no smoking gun there is «convincing circumstantial evidence» that he was behind it.
When contacted by phone by the BBC this week, Kanhai refused to comment on the claims she had been handed the controversial case of money by Warner.
Kanhai did not return a number of calls immediately prior to the publication of this story while repeated requests for comment from Warner received no response.
The new evidence emerged as Fifa’s ethics committee began hearing the case against Bin Hammam. Earlier in the day the 62-year-old Qatari, suspended from all football activity on May 29, released a statement appearing to concede defeat in his bid to clear his name.
«Despite the weakness of the case against me, I am not confident that the hearing will be conducted in the manner any of us would like,» he said. «It seems likely that FIFA has made its decision weeks ago. So, none of us should be completely surprised if a guilty verdict is returned.»