Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
SOUTH Africa’s government has accused United States authorities of drafting a script for a Hollywood movie, in their package of stunning allegations that $10 million in bribes was paid to secure the hosting of the 2010 World Cup as the ugly fallout over the FIFA corruption scandal took a political twist.
A day after the man being implicated by US officials in the 2010 World Cup bribes-for-votes scandal, former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner handed himself over to the police in Trinidad and Tobago, the South Africans reacted angrily to claims by the Americans that the historic tournament was tainted by corruption.
Fikile Mbalula, the South African Sports Minister, accused the Americans of abusing the sovereignty of the Rainbow Nation, saying allegations that $10 million in bribes was handed over to corrupt FIFA officials, to secure the first World Cup to be hosted on African soil, did not have substance and were an insult to the integrity of his nation.
US officials claim that two high-ranking South African officials were involved in improper conduct, and are part of the web of decay in world football, who corrupted the FIFA system to ensure that the Rainbow Nation would host the 2010 World Cup.
The South Africans are unhappy that they were not consulted by their American counterparts before US officials went public with their stunning allegations.
“We are not and we have never acted in Hollywood and we are not used to these things,” Mbalula said yesterday.
“Let us protect our sovereignty and national interest and fight corruption but, equally, we must not allow to be abused, people seem to cast aspersions on our integrity.
“We as a government and people managing the resources of the South African people — we did not share part of your resources with criminals, I am saying it now and forever.
“The South African government and its people will not stand in any way of pursuing justice, criminality, fighting corruption in sport.”
The South Africa Football Association on Wednesday dismissed the allegations as “baseless” and said they were yet to be tested.
Warner, the man at the centre of the controversy, could have exposed himself to Chuck Blazer, a former colleague at CONCACAF, the body that runs North and Central American football, who turned himself into an FBI mole and spied for the Americans, after reaching a plea without the knowledge of his colleagues in football.
Blazer, it has emerged, would even carry car keys, with specialised microphones inserted inside them, into meetings with his fellow football leaders, taping hours of conversations of the dark side of bribes and kick-backs, which is now being used by US authorities to indict those they accuse of running a corrupt network in world football.
According to the 164-page indictment document being used by the US authorities, which is now in the hands of The Herald, the Americans claim that two high-ranking South African officials tainted the 2010 World Cup by bribing a number of officials with Warner playing a very big role.
“At various times relevant to the Indictment, Co-conspirator #15 (whose identity is known to the Grand Jury), was a high-ranking official of the 2006 South Africa World Cup Bid Committee and the 2010 South Africa World Cup Bid Committee and Local Organising Committee,” the US authorities claim.
“At various times, relevant to the Indictment, Co-conspirator #16 (whose identity is known to the Grand Jury), was a high-ranking official of the 2006 South Africa World Cup Bid Committee and the 2010 South Africa World Cup Bid Committee and Local Organising Committee.
“The corruption of the Enterprise (FIFA) became endemic. At various times relevant to the Indictment, FIFA wired billions of dollars from its accounts at a major Swiss financial institution to beneficiary accounts in the United States, and throughout the world, via a correspondent account at the US branch of a major Swiss financial institution.
“In or about 2004, the FIFA executive committee considered bids from Morocco, South Africa and Egypt to host the 2010 World Cup. Previously, the defendant, Jack Warner, and his family, had cultivated ties with South African officials in connection with, and subsequent to, the failed bid by South Africa to host the 2006 World Cup.
“In the early 2000s, Co-conspirator #14, a member of Warner’s family, had used Warner’s contacts in South Africa to organise friendly matches for CONCACAF teams to play in South Africa.
“At one point, Warner also directed Co-conspirator #14 to fly to Paris, France, and accept a briefcase containing bundles of US currency in $10 000 stacks in a hotel room from Co-conspirator #15, a high-ranking South African Bid Committee official.
“Hours after arriving in Paris, Co-conspirator #14 boarded a return flight and carried a briefcase back to Trinidad and Tobago, where, co-Conspirator #14 provided it to Warner.”
The US authorities claim Warner then became a very key figure in the battle, if not profitable, campaign to get the 2010 World Cup to South Africa.
“In the months before the selection of the host nation for the 2010 World Cup, which was scheduled to take place in May 2004, the defendant Jack Warner and Co-conspirator #1 travelled to Morocco, as they had done in 1992, in advance of the voting for 1998 World Cup host,” the Americans claim.
“While in Morocco, during the 2004 trip, a representative of the Moroccan Bid Committee offered to pay $1 million to Warner in exchange for his agreement to cast his secret ballot on the FIFA executive committee for Morocco to host the 2010 World Cup.
“Subsequently, Co-conspirator #1 learned from the defendant Jack Warner that high-ranking officials of FIFA, the South Africa Government and the South Africa Bid Committee, including Co-conspirator #16, were prepared to arrange for the Government of South Africa to pay $10 million to CFU (Caribbean Football Union) to ‘support the African Diaspora.’
“Co-conspirator #1 understood the offer to be in exchange for the agreement of Warner. Co-conspirator #1 and Co-conspirator #17, like Warner, was a FIFA executive member. Warner indicated that he had accepted the offer and told Co-conspirator #1 that he would give a $1 million portion of the $10 million payment to Co-conspirator #1.
“In FIFA’s executive committee vote held on May 15, 2004, South Africa was selected over Morocco and Egypt to host the 2010 World Cup. The defendant Jack Warner, Co-conspirator #1 and Co-conspirator #17 indicated they voted for South Africa.
“In the months and years after the vote, Co-conspirator #1, periodically asked Warner about the state of the $10 million payment. At one point, Co-conspirator #1 learned that the South Africans were unable to arrange for the payment to be made directly from Government funds.
“Arrangements were, thereafter, made with FIFA officials to, instead, have the $10 million sent from FIFA, using funds that would otherwise have gone from FIFA to South Africa to support the World Cup, to the CFU.
“In fact, on January 2, 2008, January 31, 2008 and March 7, 2008, a high-ranking FIFA official caused payments of $616 000, $1,600,000 and $7,784,000, totalling $10 million, to be wired from a FIFA account in Switzerland to a Bank of America correspondent account in New York, New York, for credit to accounts held in the names of CFU and CONCACAF, but controlled by the defendant, Jack Warner, at Republic Bank in Trinidad and Tobago.”
The Americans then go on to give a detailed account of how the funds ended up with Warner.
“Soon after receiving these wire transfers, the defendant Jack Warner, caused a substantial portion of the funds to be diverted for his personal use. For example, on January 9, 2008, Warner directed Republic Bank officials to apply $200 000 of the $616 000, which had been transferred into a CFU account from FIFA one week earlier, towards a personal loan account held in his name.
“The defendant Jack Warner diverted a portion of the funds into his personal accounts by laundering the funds through intermediaries. For example, during the period of January 16, 2008 to March 27, 2008, Warner caused approximately $1,4 million of the $10 million to be transferred to Individual #1, a Trinidadian businessman whose identity is known to the Grand Jury, and Trinidadian Company A, a large supermarket chain in Trinidad and Tobago, controlled by Individual #1.
“Weeks later, cheques totalling approximately the same amount and drawn on an account held in the name of the Trinidadian Company also controlled by Individual #1, were deposited into a bank account held in the name of Warner and a family member at First Citizens Bank in Trinidad and Tobago. The identities of the Trinidadian Company A and Trinidadian Company B are known to the Grand Jury.
“During the three years, following Warner’s receipt of the $10 million from FIFA, Warner made three payments to Co-conspirator #1, totalling $750 000, in partial payment of the $1 million that Warner had earlier promised Co-conspirator #1 as part of the bribe scam.
“The first payment, in the amount of $298 500, was made by wire transfer sent on or about December 19, 2008 from an account held in the name of the CFU at Republic Bank in Trinidad and Tobago, to a Bank of America correspondent account in New York for credit to an account controlled by Co-conspirator #1 at a bank in the Cayman islands.
“The second payment, in the amount of $205 000, was made by cheque drawn on an account held in the name of CFU at Republic Bank in Trinidad and Tobago. On or about September 27, 2010, Co-conspirator #1 caused the cheque to be deposited into his Merrill Lynch brokerage account in New York.
“Approximately one month earlier, on or about August 23, 2010, Warner sent an email to Co-conspirator #1 to advise him that the payment was forthcoming.
“The third payment, in the amount of $250 000, was made by cheque drawn on an account held in the name of CFU and Republic Bank in Trinidad and Tobago. The cheque was delivered to Co-conspirator #1 by another individual who travelled by airplane from Trinidad and Tobago to JFK International Airport, in Queens, New York, where he delivered the cheque to Co-conspirator #1.
“A representative of First Caribbean International Bank in the Bahamas, where Co-conspirator #1 held another account, subsequently travelled by airplane to New York where he took custody of the cheque. He subsequently travelled to the Bahamas and, on or about May 3, 2011, deposited he cheque in Co-conspirator #1’s account.
“Approximately two months earlier, on or about March 13, 2011, Warner sent an email to Co-conspirator #1 to advise him that payment was forthcoming. Co-conspirator #1 never received the balance of the promised $1 million payment.”