Power refers to the ability to control, coerce, or influence the behaviour of others. While the ability to influence can be used for good, it often illuminates the human desire for conquest and manipulation. The recent indictments against nine FIFA officials and five business executives, all powerful men, for racketeering, conspiracy, and corruption is evidence of this.
According to the US Attorney General Loretta Lynch,
The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States. It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. And it has profoundly harmed a multitude of victims, from the youth leagues and developing countries that should benefit from the revenue generated by the commercial rights these organizations hold, to the fans at home and throughout the world whose support for the game makes those rights valuable. Today’s action makes clear that this Department of Justice intends to end any such corrupt practices, to root out misconduct, and to bring wrongdoers to justice – and we look forward to continuing to work with other countries in this effort.
James Comey, the Director of the FBI explained
As charged in the indictment, the defendants fostered a culture of corruption and greed that created an uneven playing field for the biggest sport in the world. Undisclosed and illegal payments, kickbacks, and bribes became a way of doing business at FIFA. I want to commend the investigators and prosecutors around the world who have pursued this case so diligently, for so many years.
Trinidadian businessman, politician, and former FIFA Vice President, Jack Warner is among the fourteen men accused. Mr Warner is charged with racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracies. This scandal has left me with the desire to examine the intersection of power, privilege, and corruption in Trinidad and Tobago.
I have made some observations over the years. There is an obvious disparity between the expected conduct of the privileged and the common man. The privileged takes what he was born to acquire while the common man gives of his best in an attempt to achieve. From nepotism within government ministries, corruption within the police service, insider trading, to misappropriation of public funding, examples of corruption have always been a matter of discourse in Trinidad and Tobago.
Columnist Raffique Shah analysed political corruption in Trinidad and Tobago. He chose to remind Trinidadians of the Piarco Airport scandal of the UNC regime, accusations of “siphoning funds off state enterprises” by the PNM government, and allegations that “hundreds of millions of dollars are said to have been pocketed by ministers, their families and friends, and party financiers” of the People’s Partnership coalition government.” All these instances have occurred without resolution. This leads Shah to question
Could it be that all these allegations, all the investigative reports that appear in the print media with documentation to support them, are hoaxes? Is it that journalists and media houses have hidden agendas, ulterior motives?
Or could it be that this is a society in which the public code of conduct is premised on institutionalised deception that allows the high and mighty to get away with corruption, even murder, while the poor and powerless suffer the consequences of revenue stolen?
As Trinidadians, we are meant to be guided by the words: Discipline, Production, and Tolerance. However, I am not so sure. Why should you work diligently towards your goals while stimulating the economy of this country? Once you enter this world with privilege, you should not have to abide by the same laws as your fellow countrymen. Rules should not govern your existence because you are special. You can simply have your friends in ‘high places’ plead your case. Do not even consider thinking of yourself as an equal member of society. You do not have to work like the rest of the minions around you. If some lowly idiot tries to stand in the way of the favours which, by your mere existence, you deserve, let this not dissuade you for you are mighty. You will always prevail because you are great.
Maybe we need to revisit the nation’s watchwords for they do not apply. The motto Power, Privilege, and Corruption is more apt. These words place emphasis on how this country is run. There is no place for the just, the honest, the hard-working in this land. Integrity cannot be allowed to exist. For this country to progress, power must remain in the hands of the privileged. Corruption must be more blatant; the minions of this land need to know who is in control.
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.
― Abraham Lincoln
See full DOJ release: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/nine-fifa-officials-and-five-corporate-executives-indicted-racketeering-conspiracy-and
Raffique Shah, Corruption and Deception, Trinidad Express. Published on Oct 12, 2013. Available at http://www.trinidadexpress.com/commentaries/Corruption-and-deception-227540511.html?m=y&smobile=y&gallery=y&img=0