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Warner serious or just bluffing?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

One of the most significant aspects of the indictment of the US Department of Justice against the Fifa officials for T&T is the alleged involvement of individuals and multinational corporations in the multi-million dollar racketeering.

“Two generations of soccer officials abused their positions of trust for personal gain, frequently through an alliance with unscrupulous sports marketing executives who shut out competitors and kept highly lucrative contracts for themselves through the systematic payment of bribes and kickbacks,” states the US Department of Justice. Further, the 47-count indictment notes that “several competing sports marketing companies sought a share of the growing profits associated with organised soccer. Frequently, those companies paid bribes to soccer officials in order to win business.” 

That is the nature of the beast as described by the indictments. 

Those investigative findings of the Department of Justice of fraud and racketeering in Fifa and the worldwide experience of business corporations bribing governments tell us a story.

Jack Warner has alleged that his former party, the United National Congress, had been involved with local contractors in similar kinds of solicitations. 

This column returns to the subject of T&T’s absence of laws, regulations and any demonstrated interest in making transparent funding by business establishments of party campaigns. 

Neither the political parties nor the local business community has shown any interest in developing a system to protect the tax-payer against blue chip investment in the Treasury by party financiers.

Between 2009 and 2014, government expenditure on infrastructure projects and in the PSIP amounted to approximately $50 billion, according to the Review of the Economy 2015. However, it should be noted that information on other contracts may be hidden in some other place in the accounts. 

So the figure is an approximation of what party financiers are investing in and why the need for transparency.

It is understandable that a government would not propose legislation to control and make transparent campaign financing. When questioned on the issue, then attorney general Anand Ramlogan, said check us in 2016. That would be after the party had committed to making dividend payments on secret investments of the business individuals and corporations in the present campaign.

The People’s National Movement merely said it was the only party that attended a few international conferences on the subject of campaign financing. PNM’s political leader, Keith Rowley said the party was not prepared to tie its hands behind its back while the PP receives funding.

Recently a Parliamentary Committee reported that with only six months left in the term, there would not be sufficient time to submit a report which could be discussed and turned into legislation before the general election. 

Waiting for four and one half years to pass without addressing the issue demonstrates absolute disregard for the intelligence of the population. 

The reality is that the parties had no intention of ending non-transparent access to the Treasury by business organisations. The parties understand that a set of laws and regulations in place to monitor campaign financing would scare aware corporate and individual investors.

All of that is understandable. Basdeo Panday established that politics and politicians have a morality of their own. But what of the different segments of the business community, Sparrow’s “Good Citizens”: why do they continue to play in the non-transparent game? 

Aware of the commitments made by parties before the 2010 elections to institute campaign finance regulations, the business communities should have adopted the position: “no regulations; no funding.”

Is it because corporate executives and their companies want to avoid being known to the national community to have funded X party and received Y contracts that they do nothing concrete to end non-transparent investments?

In perhaps his most challenging moment Warner says the “gloves are off.” So we can conclude that “mout go open and tory go jump out.” 

Is that mere bluff, pure brave’ dange’?

Remember the tsunami against Sepp Blatter and Fifa is yet to come ashore.

Does Warner really have information on how politicians and business corporations clandestinely collaborate to defraud the tax payer? Will he release it, if he has it?

Notwithstanding his difficult legal battle with the US Department of Justice, if Warner possesses and releases information on how business corporations and individuals co-operate with parties to gain unfair advantage to billions of dollars in contracts, that may his greatest political legacy.

Warner and others have legitimately raised concerns as to why only Caribbean and South American Fifa officials have been indicted.

If the alleged corruption is “systemic” in the world football body, how come Sepp Blatter, who has been president of the organisation for 16 years and general secretary before that, could not be aware of it?

Warner has said to the effect that if he is guilty of corruption then his boss would have given him sufficient playing room to corruptly gather the tens of millions.

Is the Department of Justice looking to play ball with one of the accused from Concacaf or South America who has the information to sink Blatter and others? Or is this naked discrimination against developing countries?


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