Former HSA chair Canover Watson faces 10 charges

Charges include money laundering

 Canover Watson, former chairman of the Health Services Authority, appeared in Summary Court on Tuesday to face 10 charges, including six for money laundering.

The charges were transmitted to the Grand Court, where he is scheduled to appear on Friday. 

The money laundering charges, relating to a total of US$169,000 and covering the period from Dec. 30, 2010, to June 2012, are brought under the Proceeds of Crime Law. He is also charged with failing to disclose a pecuniary interest, breach of trust, fraud on the government, and conflict of interest. 

Crown Counsel Toyin Salako explained that three of the charges are Category A, meaning they can be heard only in Grand Court. Since the other charges arise from the same set of facts, they could also be transmitted, she said. 

Defense attorney Ben Tonner agreed. 

Details of the charge of failing to disclose a pecuniary interest, contrary to the Health Services Authority Law, are that on or about June 9, 2011, as a director of the Health Services board, Watson failed to discharge the disclosure obligation at a Finance Subcommittee meeting that he had a pecuniary interest in Advanced Integrated Systems (Cayman) Ltd. 

The next three charges, brought under the Anti-Corruption Law, are the Category A matters. 

The first alleges breach of trust. Watson is charged that, on or about Dec. 21, 2010, as chairman of the HSA and chairman of the Technical Evaluation Subcommittee, with a view to private pecuniary gain, he failed to disclose his personal interest in Advanced Integrated Systems (Cayman) Ltd. As a public officer, he failed to recuse himself from deliberations, in a manner that breached the standard of responsibility and conduct demanded of him by the nature of the office and duty imposed upon him. 

A charge of fraud on the government contains the following details: that on or about Dec. 29, 2010, Watson accepted from Advanced Integrated Systems (Cayman) Ltd. a reward of US$50,000 in that, as a member of a public office, he undertook for consideration to act on behalf of the company in conducting business with the Cayman Islands government. 

A charge of conflict of interest alleges that on or about Dec. 21, 2010, with a view to private pecuniary gain, he failed to disclose personal interest in Advanced Integrated Systems (Cayman) Ltd. in that he provided assistance in incorporating the company and advised it during the bidding process. As a public officer, he failed to disclose the personal interest in any decisions taken by the Health Services Authority. 

Initially, one charge of money laundering was presented to the court, alleging that on or about Dec. 30, 2010, Watson acquired criminal property in whole or in part that represented, directly or indirectly, benefit from criminal conduct in the amount of US$50,000. 

Just before the lunch adjournment, after Mr. Tonner and his client had left court, another file was given to Magistrate Grace Donalds. It contained five more charges of money laundering, with similar wording as the charge above. 

These charges related to US$50,000 in January 2011; US$15,000 in April 2011; US$4,000 in June 2011; US$25,000 in June 2012; and another US$25,000, also in June 2012. 

The magistrate asked how this file was to be dealt with. Crown Counsel Candia Jones asked to be excused, left the courtroom and returned after speaking by phone with Ms. Salako. She advised that these charges could be sent to Grand Court along with the first file. 

Earlier, the Crown had asked for conditions to be added to Watson’s bail and there were no objections. He is to report to the police station once a week and reside at a specified address.  

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Canover Watson, left, and his attorney Ben Tonner arrive at court on Tuesday. – PHOTO: CHRIS COURT

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