Sepp Blatter’s top lieutenant Jerome Valcke made $10 million in bank transactions to an account controlled by another high level FIFA football official, The New York Times reported on Monday.
US federal authorities said the alleged transfer of millions in 2008 from FIFA to accounts controlled by former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner are key elements of the ongoing corruption scandal that has engulfed football’s governing body.
The newspaper, citing several unnamed law enforcement officials, said the payments are a crucial part of last week’s indictment against 14 football officials and marketing executives by US and Swiss authorities and shows the bribery trail is closer to FIFA President Blatter than previously known.
US prosecutors have accused Warner of taking a bribe in exchange for helping South Africa secure the right to host the 2010 World Cup tournament.
No charges have been filed against FIFA secretary general Valcke and he has not been accused of any wrongdoing or named in the indictment. But Times says its sources told them that he is the unidentified “high-ranking official” who allegedly transferred the funds to Warner.
Valcke denied authorizing the payment and said he doesn’t have the power to do so in an email to the newspaper.
According to the indictment, the $10 million payment was made in three wire transfers between January and March 2008.
FIFA announced Monday that Valcke would not attend next week’s opening of the Women’s World Cup as planned in Canada because of the scandal.
Two separate investigations are being carried out by American and Swiss authorities for alleged rampant and long-running corruption within FIFA, with several top officials arrested in dawn raids in Zurich last week and accused by US investigators of taking tens of millions of dollars in bribes.
They were all detained for alleged corruption cases in North and South America. They are being held presently in Switzerland, and plan to fight extradition to the United States.
Swiss officials have said Blatter could also be questioned as part of the continuing probe and the Americans have said they plan to make more arrests in the future. – Agence France-Presse