FIFA Jack Warner Keeps His Two Jobs

Austin ‘Jack’ Warner will hold on to both his job in the Trinidad and Tobago Cabinet and his position on the executive of world football governing body, FIFA.

Legal experts who gave the government advice on the matter say there’s nothing illegal about him holding the two posts and there’s little chance of conflict of interest arising. So Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced yesterday that Warner stays in her Cabinet and can remain as FIFA vice president.

“In law, there is obviously nothing wrong with it,” she said. “If it has to do with work ethic and if it is that, Mr Warner is capable of performing his functions as Minister of Works and those are not impaired in terms of work. I see no reason why Mr Warner should be called upon to choose or whether myself in my capacity as Prime Minister should ask him to step down as Minister or Works.”

Persad-Bissessar announced the decision after Attorney General Anand Ramlogan reported that four prominent attorneys – former T&T Attorney General Russell Martineau SC, former Guyana AG Sir Fenton Ramsahoye SC, British Queen’s Counsel Michael Beloff and former T&T president Sir Ellis Clarke – had all indicated there was no law against it. Government had sought advice from the legal experts after Opposition Leader Keith Rowley raised questions about whether Warner’s continuation as FIFA vice-president while in Cabinet was proper. Ramlogan had received advice from the country’s Integrity Commission, which indicated that all Cabinet Ministers should organise their affairs so they comply with the Code of Conduct of the Integrity in Public Life Act, but said he wanted further guidance before advising the Prime Minister on the way forward.

In giving his advice, Sir Ellis said: “It is difficult to see how a conflict of interest is likely to arise as a result of a Cabinet Minister being a Vice President of FIFA.”

Sir Fenton and Beloff not only agreed that there was no legal impediment to Warner retaining the two posts, but suggested that him holding a position on the executive of FIFA was something the country should be proud of.

“The practical question is raised. Can a person give adequate attention to the duties of a Cabinet Minister if one is also a vice president of Fifa? Obviously this is not for the Integrity Commission to determine. Basically, it is for the Prime Minister to determine whether or not the minister is giving full and satisfactory attention to the discharge of the responsibilities of the ministry,” added the legal luminary who was the twin-island republic’s first president.

Sir Fenton and Beloff not only agreed that there was no legal impediment to Warner retaining the two posts, but suggested that him holding a position on the executive of FIFA was something the country should be proud of.

“There is nothing in the law of the republic or the ethics code to require Mr Warner to resign from his unpaid part-time role with Fifa, with whom he has been involved since 1983, consequent upon his appointment to the Cabinet,” wrote Beloff. “It is, I would add, obvious that the occupation of Mr Warner of high office in the international body is calculated to bring prestige to the republic rather than to damage its interests.”

Sir Fenton added that Warner’s connections in the promotion of football are likely to benefit the entire country

But the Opposition Leader has contended that the government wasted taxpayers’ money in hiring legal counsel. Rowley said his contention had never been whether it was legal for Warner to hold both positions at the time but rather, whether it was ethical.

“I raised this matter in the context of the Code of Ethics that was passed by the Parliament because the Parliament, the Government and the country were uncomfortable about what this very type of situation,” he noted.

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One Response to FIFA Jack Warner Keeps His Two Jobs

  1. Pingback: Brazil Ousted From WC 2010 Cuh Dear! « Bajan Global Report

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