GEORGE TOWN: Millionaire businessman Canover Watson has been jailed for seven years for conspiring with disgraced former FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb to “steal money from the Cayman Islands government”.
Watson was treasurer of the Cayman Islands Football Association while Webb was president and was also a member of the powerful audit and compliance ‘policing’ committee of the embattled world football federation.
Webb, the former regional CONCACAF president, is under house arrest in the United States after pleading guilty to a range of fraud charges connected to the massive FIFAGate corruption investigation. He also faces charges connected with the Watson case.
Last Thursday Watson was found guilty of five out of six criminal charges against him over fraud comected with a CarePay hospital contract project.
Justice Michael Mettyear, in delivering sentence, told Watson: “You were able to succeed because of your position of power and trust as chairman of the Health Services Authority.
“The evidence against you was overwhelming. You conspired with Jeff Webb to steal money from the Cayman Islands government . . . from the Health Services Authority and CINICO.
“You behaved shamelessly . . . falsifying presentations, letters, emails, contracts and signatures . . . you fooled a number of senior civil servants and possibly a minister. You tried to fool the jury, although you failed.”
The prosecution has announced it will recommend forfeiture of at least some of Watson’s assets in attempts to reclaim the public funds he siphoned off.
During the two month trial, Watson was accused of conspiring with Webb in a scheme to divert hundreds of thousands of dollars into their own accounts from the CarePay patient swipe-card contract.
Monies were also siphoned from FIFA development funds awarded to the Cayman FA with one of the beneficiaries being a company jointly owned with Jack Warner, Webb’s predecessor as president of CONCACAF and also as regional FIFA vice-president.