Trinidadian appeared in court to hear eight counts of fraud but a delay in processing his US$395,000 bail meant a night in the cells
Former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner was spending Wednesday night in jail in Trinidad, after surrendering to face an arrest warrant issued at the request of US authorities, who filed corruption charges against him and 13 others tied to international football.
Warner appeared in court in Port-of Spain, where a judge read eight counts against him and then set bail at 2.5m Trinidadian dollars (US$395,000). He was also told he must surrender his passport and report to police twice a week.
Warner did not enter a plea and was scheduled to appear in court again on 12 July.
Police said there was a delay in processing Warner’s bail and he would spend one night in jail. Before turning himself in, Warner denied he had done anything wrong.
The US has two months to issue a formal extradition request, according to Trinidad’s attorney general, Garvin Nicholas, who said his office had been working with the US justice department for about two years regarding the investigation into Warner, who was forced out of Fifa in 2011 over a bribery scandal.
In a video posted on Facebook just hours before he surrendered, Warner said: “I want to tell you, that whatever is planned for me, negatively, shall not succeed.”
Warner, who is an opposition member of parliament in the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, and previously served as Trinidad’s national security minister, can be extradited to the US under a bilateral treaty following a hearing.
“Mr Warner is entitled to a fair extradition process and both the requesting and requested states intend to abide by the provisions of the treaty to ensure that Mr Warner’s rights are respected,” the attorney general said in a statement.
American prosecutors on Wednesday accused nine senior current or former Fifa officials – seven of whom, including Fifa vice-presidents Jeffrey Webb and Eugenio Figueredo, were arrested in dawn raids at a five-star hotel in Switzerland – of “hijacking” international football to run “a World Cup of fraud” to line their pockets by $150m.
The Swiss federal prosecutor also raided Fifa’s headquarters in Zurich in a parallel investigation into the controversial bidding race for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively in December 2010.
Loretta Lynch, the US attorney general, said the Fifa officials had allegedly run a “rampant, systemic and deep-rooted” scheme to “acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks”.
“They were expected to uphold the rules that keep soccer honest, and protect the integrity of the game. Instead, they corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests and enrich themselves.”
Lynch said the nine Fifa officials, including Warner, and five sports marketing executives had run “a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer”.
“These individuals and organisations engaged in bribery to decide who would televise games; where the games would be held; and who would run the organisation overseeing organised soccer worldwide,” Lynch said.
“They corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests and enrich themselves. They did this over and over, year after year, tournament after tournament.”
Among an avalanche of new claims was one that South Africa paid $10m in bribes to secure the 2010 World Cup – and that the cash was transferred via a Fifa account. The money was allegedly paid to former Fifa members Warner and Chuck Blazer – an American who became an FBI informer after he was threatened over millions in unpaid tax.
Lynch said she would seek the extradition of the men to the US to stand trial as soon as possible. If found guilty of racketeering, the most serious of the 47 charges, some of the men face up to 20 years in jail.
Earlier in the day, Warner denied any wrongdoing, as he has previously when confronted with allegations that he enriched himself while an official with the global soccer governing body and as a president of Concacaf, Fifa’s North American regional organisation.
Warner left football in 2011 to avoid Fifa sanctions during the organisation’s presidential election. He said he was not questioned in the investigation that led to this week’s indictment, which also involves guilty pleas by two of his sons on related charges.
“I have been afforded no due process and I have not even been questioned in this matter,” he said in a statement. “I reiterate that I am innocent of any charges.
“I have walked away from the politics of world football to immerse myself in the improvement of lives in this country where I shall, God willing, die.”
In a brief phone conversation with the Associated Press, Warner declined to comment further and said he did not have enough information about his sons’ guilty pleas to comment. “I can’t say anything about what I don’t know about.”
Warner represents the constituency of Chaguanas West in parliament. His term is due to expire when the session ends on 17 June.
Later, he told TV6 that US authorities “know where to find me” and added: “I sleep very soundly in the night.”