FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke was implicated in $10 million in bank transactions that are at the center of the bribery scandal surrounding soccer's governing body, reports The New York Times.
The Times cites several law enforcement officials who say Valcke—FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s top deputy—is the unidentified “high-ranking FIFA official” who prosecutors said last week transferred $10 million in 2008 from FIFA to accounts controlled by former FIFA vice president and CONCACAF president Jack Warner.
Warner was one of 14 FIFA officials and marketing executives indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on corruption charges. He faces eight counts in the U.S., including conspiracy to defraud and to engage in racketeering. After surrendering to authorities in Trinidad on Wednesday, he spent one night in jail after he was granted a $395,000 bond.
According to the indictment, “high-ranking FIFA officials, the South African government and the South African bid committee” arranged in 2006 to have the country’s government pay $10 million to the Caribbean Football Union, a subset of CONCACAF, if Warner—the FIFA vice president and CONCACAF president at the time—and two other FIFA officials voted for South Africa's bid to host the 2010 World Cup.
From Monday’s Times report:
Mr. Warner voted for South Africa, but in the months and years after the vote, South Africa was unable to pay. So rather than take a payment directly from South Africa, the indictment says, FIFA itself paid Mr. Warner in 2008, using money that would otherwise have gone to South Africa to support the World Cup.
In effect, the indictment says the bribe was paid on the back end of the deal, so South Africa received $10 million less from FIFA than it otherwise would have.
Last week’s indictment does not say the unidentified high-ranking FIFA official knew the $10 million was being used as a bribe. Valcke is also not identified as a co-conspirator.
In an email to the Times, Valcke said “that he had not authorized the payment and did not have the power to do so, has not been charged or accused of wrongdoing.” A spokeswoman for FIFA said Julio Grondona, the chairman of FIFA’s finance committee at the time, authorized the $10 million payment, which was made in three wire transfers in January and March 2008. Grondona died last year.
FIFA announced on Monday, before the Times report, that Valcke had canceled his trip to the Women’s World Cup opening in Canada “due to the current situation.”
“It is important that he attend to matters at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich,” the statement read.
- Mike Fiammetta