Opposition legislator wants police investigation into FIFA bribery allegations

FIFA on Sunday pledged to investigate bribery allegations against its vice president, Austin Jack Warner.

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Football players

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – An opposition legislator Tuesday called on Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs to launch an investigation to determine whether Trinidad and Tobago was used as a venue for the alleged payment of bribes to members of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU).

Senator Fitzgerald Hinds, a former junior national security minister, told the Senate that the authorities, including the Comptroller of Customs must also investigate whether any person declared more than the stipulated amount foreign currency into the country.

“I am calling on Mr. Gibbs, the Commissioner of Police, don’t leave everything up to any international organization…since a crime may have been committed in Trinidad and Tobago,” Hinds said.

“I am calling upon the Comptroller of Customs to check the records to see whether large amounts of US currency was legally imported into Trinidad and Tobago without declaration.”

Football’s world governing body, FIFA, on Sunday pledged to investigate bribery allegations against its vice president, Austin Jack Warner, former presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam and two CFU officials.

FIFA has temporarily suspending them from activity connected with the game. Warner and Bin Hammam have been accused of offering US$40,000 to national associations of the CFU at a meeting on May 10 and 11 here, in return for their votes in the FIFA presidential election.

Bin Hammam was due to face incumbent FIFA president Sepp Blatter for the top post in the game in an election on Wednesday in Zurich, Switzerland, but has since withdrawn his candidacy.

CFU officials Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester were also suspended until a full investigation into bribery allegations against them was conducted. Warner has said he will defend his reputation and challenge the allegations and Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar has vowed publicly to “stand” by her embattled Works and Transport minister, who is also chairman of her United National Congress (UNC), one of the five parties in the coalition People’s Partnership government.

On Tuesday, Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar, who announced that he is a candidate to contest the leadership of the Congress of the People (COP) Party, told reporters that Warner should step down until the investigations are completed.

Ramadhar acknowledged that the country had also been affected by the FIFA scandal.

“It is bad for football and it is bad for the country,” Ramadhar added.

The COP, which is a member of the coalition government, has publicly called on Warner to detp down pending the outcome of the probe.

CMC/11

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