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[WASHINGTON] US authorities believe Fifa President Sepp Blatter's top lieutenant made US$10 million in bank transactions that are central to the bribery investigation of the world soccer body, the New York Times reported on Monday, citing unnamed law-enforcement officials.
The newspaper said Fifa Secretary General Jerome Valcke is the unidentified "high-ranking Fifa official" who prosecutors say transferred the sum in 2008 to another Fifa official, Jack Warner.
The newspaper said Mr Vlacke's alleged involvement is sure to raise more questions about what Mr Blatter, who was re-elected on Friday to a fifth term as head of Fifa, knew about the money transfer.
"Mr. Valcke, who said in a brief email that he had not authorized the payment and did not have the power to do so, has not been charged or accused of wrongdoing," the Times said.
Mr Warner, a former Fifa vice president, is among nine Fifa officials and five corporate executives charged by the US Department of Justice on Wednesday with running a criminal enterprise that involved more than US$150 million in bribes.
Mr Blatter, 79, is not accused of any wrongdoing personally and has implied that the United States timed news of the charges to try to undermine his re-election.
The US$10 million payment is a key element of the indictment accusing Mr Warner of taking a bribe in exchange for helping South Africa secure the right to host the 2010 World Cup, the Times said.