Former FIFA vice president charged in Cayman Islands fraud case
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands - The former FIFA vice president and Cayman Islands football boss, Jeffrey Webb, has been charged with fraud and breach of trust in relation to a local hospital card payment case.
Canover Watson and Miriam Rodrigues are also facing further charges in relation to the ongoing local investigation into the CarePay Card contract, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) said in a statement on Friday. While Watson and Rodrigues are expected to appear in court on Tuesday, a warrant has been issued for Webb’s arrest.
Officials said they were expecting to begin extradition proceedings in relation to these charges, as Webb remains on remand in Switzerland, where he is already fighting extradition to the US in connection with the massive FIFA corruption probe.
Following months of speculation that Webb and others were also under investigation in relation to the $11 million contract award, a short statement was released on Friday afternoon by ACC chair David Baines, who is also the commissioner of police.
Watson and Webb have been jointly charged with two counts of conspiracy to defraud contrary to common law, one count of breach of trust under the 2008 anti-corruption law and a charge of conspiracy to convert criminal property contrary to both the Penal Code and the proceeds of crime law. Watson’s former PA, Miriam Rodrigues, has also been charged with one count of conspiracy to convert criminal property.
Watson and Rodrigues are already scheduled to go on trial in November. The Crown had successfully postponed an earlier trial in May after a trillion bytes of digital information was handed over to investigators in April in connection with the case from Watson’s former employer, Admiral Administration.
Watson already faces numerous charges in relation to the case, including six counts of money laundering in relation to around US$169,000 over an 18-month period between December 2010 and June 2012, when he was chair of the Health Services Authority (HSA) board. He is also charged with conflict of interest, failing to disclose a pecuniary interest, breach of trust and fraud.
Rodrigues faces fraud and money laundering charges.
The Crown alleges Watson has direct connections to AIS and that he helped to secure the company two lucrative contacts at the hospital while he was the HSA board’s chair, which forms the basis of the corruption accusations. Prosecutors say that he created the bank accounts for the firm and told the principals what to say and do, which they claim is supported by email communication.
Both Watson and Rodrigues have denied all charges.
Officials have not yet made any claims regarding the part they say Webb played in the local corruption case but it is understood that Webb was a close business associate of Watson and had a number of companies together. Watson was also a FIFA official before he was suspended from one of the organisation’s committees after he was charged in the local CarePay case.
The details of the charges against Webb are likely to remain under wraps for some considerable time as he is unlikely to be returned to Cayman anytime soon. On Thursday, an official extradition application was filed in Switzerland by the US authorities for Webb, who has been detained in a Zürich jail since he was arrested with six other FIFA officials in May.
Given the circumstances, the application by the Cayman authorities will take second place when filed against the background of the US request. Webb is understood to be fighting the extradition to the United States but there has been no indication whether he will also fight extradition to Cayman.
Source: Cayman News Service