Hospital card corruption trial set for May

Former Health Services Authority Board Chairman Canover Watson and his former personal assistant at Admiral Administration, both charged in the CarePay corruption and money laundering case, will face trial together in late May, a Grand Court judge ordered Thursday.  

Watson, 43, and Miriam Rebecca Rodriguez, 53, are charged in what Crown prosecutors allege was a fraud and money laundering scheme surrounding the awarding and implementation of the Cayman Islands Hospital’s CarePay patient swipe-card system.  

On Thursday, Justice Charles Quin agreed with the Crown that allegations against Watson and Rodriguez related either to the same set of facts or a series of occurrences that were similar, and that joining the indictments against them was “very sensible.”  

Neither attorney Ben Tonner, representing Watson, nor attorney Laurence Aiolfi, representing Rodriguez, objected to the joining of the indictments. Trial was set for May 25; a plea and directions hearing was set for March 27.  

Watson has said he will fight the corruption and money laundering allegations. Rodriguez has not made any public statements about the case.  

Rodriguez faces one fraud-related charge under section 11 of the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Law and two charges of money laundering. The money laundering allegations relate to separate amounts, totaling US$30,000 and US$25,000, that Rodriguez is accused of handling on behalf of Watson, who was managing director of Admiral Administration.  

The details of the charges are that between Oct. 1, 2010 and July 4, 2012, Rodriguez offered and/or gave “assistance to a public officer, namely Mr. Canover Watson, in the awarding of a contract to Advanced Integrated Systems (Cayman) Ltd.”  

According to court records: “Evidence suggests that Mr. Canover Watson had a beneficial interest in the company Advanced Integrated Systems (Cayman} Ltd. which he failed to disclose and obtained substantial financial benefit as a consequence of the company being awarded [two] contracts.”  

Watson, who is also the former recipient of the Young Caymanian Leadership Award, faces 10 charges, including six for alleged money laundering. The money laundering charges, relating to a total of US$169,000 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.  

The charges relate to a period when Watson served as chairman of the Health Services Authority, during which he approved and signed the contract for the CarePay patient swipe-card system for Cayman Islands’ public healthcare system. The other contract referred to in the charges was for a computerized pharmaceutical information management system awarded in October 2011.  

It is alleged in court records that Rodriguez “facilitated the incorporation of AIS (Cayman) Ltd. with the General Registry of the Cayman Islands and covered up the fact that Mr. Watson was involved with the company.”  

The money laundering charges allege that in June and July 2012, Rodriguez possessed “criminal property” that represented, either directly or indirectly, the benefits of criminal conduct totaling US$55,000.  

It is alleged that Rodriguez, while working at Admiral Administration, received cash in envelopes from “persons involved in AIS” and “forwarded it on to a third party without disclosing the same.”  

The third party referred to, but not named in the court records was not connected with Admiral Administration. 

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