Fifa admits processing $14m 'bribe'

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Fifa denies that Valcke (left), its secretary-general, was involved in a S$14 million payment from South Africa to disgraced football official Warner (right). Fifa claims that former finance committee chief Grondona (centre) had authorised the payment to Warner. US investigators say the sum was a bribe promised to Warner to secure the 2010 World Cup.


    Jun 03, 2015

    Fifa admits processing $14m 'bribe'


    FIFA admitted yesterday that it had processed a US$10 million (S$14 million) payment from South Africa to a disgraced football official, but denied that the world body's secretary-general Jerome Valcke was involved.

    Fifa said that a former finance committee chief who died last year, Argentinian Julio Grondona, authorised the payment to Jack Warner.

    Warner, one of 14 people facing corruption charges in the United States over US$150 million in bribes, was at the time Grondona's deputy as head of Fifa's finance committee.

    The South African government had asked Fifa to "withhold" money intended for the organisers of the 2010 World Cup and send it to a development project in the Caribbean run by Warner, a Fifa statement said.

    According to US investigators, the US$10 million was a bribe promised to Warner and his deputy, American Chuck Blazer, to secure the 2010 World Cup. South Africa has strongly denied any wrongdoing.

    The Fifa statement came in response to a New York Times report that Valcke, right-hand man to Fifa president Sepp Blatter, had approved the payment to an account controlled by Warner, then head of the North and Central American and Caribbean Confederation (Concacaf).

    The New York Times, citing unnamed law enforcement officials, said the payments are a crucial part of the indictment against the 14 football officials and marketing executives.

    Fifa said it had acted as an intermediary between South Africa and a World Cup legacy project to "support the African diaspora in Caribbean countries".

    A Fifa statement said neither Valcke "nor any other member of Fifa's senior management were involved in the initiation, approval and implementation" of the transfer.

    The Swiss authorities said that they have received no US request for assistance regarding Valcke, a Frenchman.

    Valcke on Monday announced that he had called off a planned visit to Canada next week for the start of the Women's World Cup. Blatter still plans to attend the final.

    "The payments totalling US$10 million were authorised by the then chairman of the finance committee and executed in accordance with the organisation regulations of Fifa," added the statement.

    Grondona, a controversial figure in world football over many decades, was finance committee chief at the time. He was a senior Fifa vice-president when he died last year at the age of 82.

    Swiss police, following a US request, arrested seven Fifa officials in Zurich two days before Blatter was re-elected as president on Friday.

    Blatter, who has faced calls to stand down even after his re-election, has expressed doubts about the raid.

    But the corruption scandal has spread, with the authorities in several countries launching investigations.

    Brazilian prosecutors have launched an investigation into Ricardo Teixeira, former Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president, for money laundering and fraud, officials said on Monday.

    Jose Maria Marin, who was CBF president until April, was one of the seven people detained in Zurich.

    Teixeira led the CBF for 23 years until 2012. Federal government spokesman Marcelo del Negri confirmed with Agence France-Presse that Teixeira was under investigation.

    A police probe found that between 2009 and 2012, Teixeira moved 464 million reais through his accounts - an amount that drew attention as "unusual", news magazine Epoca reported after gaining access to the police file.

    Teixeira, now 67, stepped down in 2012 amid corruption allegations. He is the son-in-law of former Fifa president Joao Havelange, who was also involved in multiple controversies while head of the world body.