CAYMAN ISLANDS: A member of a major new governance control committee within FIFA has has been arrested by police in the Caribbean on suspicion of corruption and money-laundering writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Canover Watson, a businessman from the Cayman Islands and vice-president of the Caribbean Football Union, has denied the allegations.
Although they do not concern the world football federation directly, the arrest will be enormously embarrassing because Watson is a member of the eight-strong audit and compliance system created under the reform process.
The audit and compliance committee was created in 2012 to “ensure the completeness and reliability” of the world governing body’s finances and also the credibility of senior individuals within the organisation.
Watson is also close to Jeff Webb, the Cayman Islands banker who is president of the CONCACAF region and head of the FIFA’s anti-discrimination task force.
The incident comes at a delicate time, with ethics investigator Michael Garcia having just submitted a major report into the scandal-hit 2018-2022 World Cup bid procress.
Watson, 43, was arrested by officers from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Anti-Corruption Unit and has been released on bail to report back to police on September 29.
The arrest followed a police investigation into a hospital swipe-card billing system in the Cayman Islands when he was head of the Health Services Authority.
According to a police statement, Watson’s arrest was for “suspicion of breach of trust contrary to section 13 of the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Law, as well as abuse of public office… and conflict of interest”, as well as “suspicion of money laundering contrary to section 133 of the Proceeds of Crime Law”.
A statement from Watson to media in the Cayman Islands said he denied any wrongdoing.
The statement said: “I make this brief statement following my arrest in relation to suspected offenses contrary to the Anti-Corruption Law.
“The allegations are denied. In due course, at the proper time and in the appropriate forum, I look forward to setting out my position in greater detail. For present purposes since the police investigation is ongoing, I have been advised by my attorneys that it would be inappropriate for me to make further comment.”
Domenico Scala, chairman of the audit and compliance committee, has asked Watson to explain himself.