Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad’s gov’t official subject of US criminal probe

A senior Trinidad and Tobago government official is the target of a U.S. criminal probe involving possible tax fraud and corruption allegations concerning international soccer, a leading newspaper in the island-nation reported.

According to the Trinidad Express, Jack Warner, the controversial minister of National Security, is the subject of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service. Warner is a former vice president of the International Federation of Football Association or FIFA, who was forced to resign in 2011 amid a bribery scandal involving the election of FIFA’s president.

The newspaper references a Reuters news agency report and interview with the Mark Hosenball, one of the agency’s investigative reporters. In the interview, Hosenball said one of Warner’s sons, Daryan, “was a ‘cooperating witness’ in part of the FBI’s investigation.”

“The investigation is being conducted principally out of New York , the FBI office in New York by a team of FBI investigators who principally deal in what they call Eurasian organized crime,” Hosenball told the Express. “Exactly how this particular case fits into the general woodwork of Eurasian organized crime I am not entirely clear on."

Hosenball has spent three weeks investigating the allegations, the Express said.

“You get some idea that it just does involve Jack Warner in some central way and Daryan Warner is his son, so it is not entirely off air that the FBI is looking at matters related to Jack Warner. Whether he is a principal subject of the investigation, I can’t say, but certainly it appears to be clear they are looking at issues related to Jack Warner,” Hosenball told the newspaper.

Warner was among more than a dozen individuals accused of taking bribes to help elect Mohammed bin Hammam as president of the federation. Warner eventually resigned in 2011, and Hammam was forced to withdraw and was banned for life by the body.

The Express said it unsuccessfully tried to contact Daryan Warner on his cell phone but he did not answer.

Calls to his father, Warner, also went unanswered, the newspaper reported.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who has been under pressure to fire Warner about an alleged secret squad within the police, declined comment on the soccer fraud probe story.

“I will not rely on published reports in the media, but will again seek to get official corroboration of the information now in the public domain before making any determination or pronouncement,” Persad-Bissessar said in a statement.

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