Trinidad and Tobago’s attorney general gave the go-ahead Monday for U.S. extradition proceedings against Jack Warner, a former vice president at the global soccer governing body FIFA, the BBC reported. Warner was indicted in May along with 13 other FIFA officials on corruption charges.
Warner, 72, a national of Trinidad and Tobago, has been accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes. The charges brought by the U.S. against him include racketeering, wire fraud, bribery and money laundering. He has denied all charges.
Attorney General Faris Al Rawi signed an authorization to proceed Monday, clearing the way for Warner’s extradition, the Guardian reported. Lawyers were scheduled to meet Friday after reviewing documents in the case.
Warner was the former head for the Caribbean and North and Central American soccer and was considered a powerful and influential figure who could support a country’s bid to host a World Cup event. The U.S. has said Warner was involved in corruption for two decades, alleging he accpted a $10 million payment from South African officials linked to the country’s bid to host the 2010 World Cup.
U.S. officials allege Warner participated in bribing other officials, and when one official bristled at the suggestion of a bribe, Warner allegedly said, “There are some people here who think they are more pious than thou. If you're pious, open a church, friends. Our business is our business.”
Monday’s announcement comes after Switzerland approved the extradition of former FIFA Vice President Eugenio Figueredo last week. Figueredo was arrested in May along with other FIFA officials. As the BBC reported, only one FIFA official so far has agreed to extradition proceedings. That official, former Vice President Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands, pleaded not guilty to bribery charges and remains under house arrest.
The soccer world was rocked in May when Swiss authorities, on behalf of the U.S., arrested FIFA officials who were staying at a five-star hotel. The officials were accused of corruption surrounding the awarding of 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively.