Soccer-Ex-FIFA Vice President Warner Loses Appeal Against Extradition From Trinidad

Former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner can be extradited from his homeland of Trinidad to the United States to face corruption charges, a London court said on Thursday.

Warner’s lawyers argued that his extradition was unlawful but London’s Privy Council, the highest court of appeal for many Commonwealth countries, unanimously dismissed his appeal.

Suspicion and rumours have surrounded the 2010 votes by FIFA’s executive to hand the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 edition to Qatar.

In 2020 a U.S. Department of Justice indictment said bribes were paid to soccer officials to secure their votes for hosting rights.

The DOJ alleged that then FIFA vice-president Warner was paid $5 million through various shell companies to vote for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup.

His role as president of CONCACAF, which organises soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean, gave him enormous influence as a powerbroker for former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter.

A former member of the FIFA Executive Committee and former CONCACAF president Warner was suspended by FIFA in 2011 and in 2015, charged with wire fraud, racketeering and money-laundering by the U.S.

FIFA banned him from all soccer-related activity for life in 2015. The 79-year-old has always denied any wrongdoing.

(Reporting by Sam Tobin in London and Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Chopra)


Jack Warner responds

In a statement issued following the ruling of the Privy Council, Warner said he had conferred with my lawyers.

He stated:

FIFA is an independent association not affiliated to any government or country. At all times it sought, in the interest of football, to offer opportunities to the widest cross section of the international community to host the World Cup. Particular attention was paid to developing countries who have been denied economic opportunity partly because for long periods they were under colonial domination.

Against that background FIFA gave preference to South Africa, Russia and Qatar to host World Cup Finals. Naturally, the United States of America and the United Kingdom who had previously hosted the World Cup were not selected despite sustained lobbying.

They were therefore not pleased and thereafter began a campaign against FIFA which resulted in the arrest and prosecution of several Executive Committee members of FIFA who had assembled for a meeting in Zurich.

I note that several European countries including France and Switzerland, several Latin American countries, including Brazil, and several African and Middle Eastern countries have refused to extradite their citizens.

Trinidad and Tobago is therefore an outlier.

I have no banking account nor property in the United States. I have not transacted any business there. It is unfathomable how a New York District Attorney could commence a prosecution against me based solely on the fact that monies payable to me passed through the American banking system.

Furthermore, it is incredulous that allegations of misconduct arising out of a FIFA meeting held in Trinidad could be prosecuted in the United States whereas, in Trinidad itself it does not constitute criminal activity.

I continue to have confidence in my team led by Fyard Hosein Senior Counsel, and I have advised them to continue to press my case on the three remaining stages of these proceedings. I have lived in this country for nearly eighty years, and I am confident that I will continue to receive the love, affection, and respect that people from all walks of life have always extended to me. I am certain I will prevail in the end.

For the time being, this is all I am prepared to say in this matter.

The issued raised by Warner on appeal

1) Whether the lawfulness of the Extradition (United States of America) Order, 2000 (“the USA Order”), purportedly issued by the Attorney General pursuant to section 4 of the Extradition (Commonwealth and Territories) Act 1985 (“the Act”) should be decided by reference to the Act or the Act as amended by the Extradition.

2) The degree of conformity required to permit an Order to be made under section 4(1) of the Act;

3) Whether the decision of the Attorney General to issue, pursuant to section 9 of the Act, an authority to proceed (“ATP”) in respect of the USA’s request for the extradition of the appellant was in breach of the appellant’s right to procedural fairness;

4) Whether the Attorney General was entitled to rely on a certificate issued pursuant to section 8(5) of the Act dealing with specialty without disclosing the specialty arrangement with the USA.

The facts of the case

Warner, a businessman, politician and former Vice President of FIFA. was subject to an extradition request made to T&T by the USA on 24 July 2015 in relation wide ranging allegations of criminal conduct stretching back some 30 years.

On 21 September 2015, the Attorney General issued (or purported to issue) an ATP pursuant to the USA’s request authorising extradition proceedings against Warner in relation to 29 offences of fraud, corruption and money laundering. Prior to issuing (or purportedly issuing) the ATP, the Attorney General had refused requests from Warner for disclosure of relevant material and to make representations in relation to the ATP.

Following an election in T&T, the new Attorney General had then offered to allow Warner to make such representations but only on condition that the deadline set by the Chief Magistrate for receipt of the ATP was extended by consent, a condition to which Warner refused to agree.

Warner applied for leave to apply for Judicial Review on 27 November 2015.

Permission was granted on 22 January 2016.

The Judicial Review claim was dismissed by Aboud J on 27 September 2017 with Warner’s appeal against that decision being dismissed by the Court of Appeal on 11 June 2019.

Warner then appealed to the Privy Council with the permission of the Court of Appeal.