Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Ex-Caribbean soccer official hit with $79 million judgment

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A former Caribbean soccer official fighting extradition in the FIFA bribery scandal has been ordered to pay $79 million in damages from a related U.S. lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge William Kuntz ordered the default judgment against Jack Warner in the 2017 civil action accusing him of embezzling tens of millions of dollars from the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football.

The written ruling was issued in federal court in Brooklyn on Tuesday after Warner failed to contest the claim.

The soccer association “intends to pursue all available avenues to enforce the judgment in any jurisdiction where CONCACAF has reason to believe Mr. Warner may have assets,” plaintiff lawyer John Kuster said in a statement Wednesday.

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Warner, 76, is a defendant in a sprawling criminal investigation that has resulted in convictions of several top soccer officials. He’s out on bail while challenging a U.S. extradition request to Trinidad and Tobago, where he’s denied any wrongdoing.

There was no immediate response Wednesday to an email sent to one of his lawyers.

The suit accused Warner and Chuck Blazer, another soccer official who died after it was filed, of negotiating bribes and kickbacks in connection with lucrative broadcasting rights for tournaments including the confederation’s Gold Cup championship.

Allegations in the suit also mirrored criminal charges saying that Warner, while he and Blazer were members of FIFA’s executive committee, took a $10 million payment to influence voting on which country should host the World Cup.

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Warner “agreed to provide Blazer with $1 million of the $10 million bribe,” according to the suit. “Unsurprisingly, when the FIFA Executive Committee vote was held on May 15, 2004, South Africa was selected over Morocco to host the 2010 World Cup. Warner and Blazer both voted for South Africa.”

Blazer’s estate agreed earlier this year to pay $20 million in damages in the civil case.

Warner’s sons, Daryll and Daryan, pleaded guilty to fraud charges in the criminal case in 2013 as part of a cooperation deal. They’re both out on bail with travel restrictions within the U.S. and are awaiting sentencing.

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