Family and friends speak out
Family and friends of Jeff Webb have spoken out in support of the banker, businessman and football official, following his arrest Wednesday on corruption charges in Switzerland.
Mr. Webb is facing allegations that he took millions of dollars in bribes in return for steering lucrative television contracts for international football tournaments to certain sports marketing companies.
His cousin Caren Thompson-Palacio said the family was in shock in the wake of the charges, which made headlines around the world.
“We are indeed still reeling from the shock of Jeff’s arrest and anxiously await further details,” she said.
“Our family is extremely grateful for the outpouring of love and support from the Cayman community and from well-wishers overseas.
“We are confident that justice will prevail and Jeff will be found innocent of all charges. Prayers and continued support would be greatly appreciated until then.”
Mr. Webb is accused of being part of a “rampant, systemic and deep-rooted” kickback scheme in international football’s world governing body. Mr. Webb, a former executive at Fidelity Bank, i involved in several local businesses and has been head of the Cayman Islands Football Association for more than two decades.
His rise through the ranks of FIFA to become one of the most important figures in the world game and cited often as the heir apparent to president Sepp Blatter, has been a source of pride locally.
Close friend Graham Rankin said he believes Webb had done enough good work over the years to deserve the trust and support of the people of the Cayman Islands.
Despite Webb’s rise to fame and prominence, Mr. Rankin said Webb came from humble beginnings.
“Jeff’s contribution to football in Cayman and throughout the Caribbean is significant. From the early days with CIFA he was physically involved in the upkeep of the Annex field, along with football enthusiasts like Mackie Seymour and myself, and did not hesitate to clean toilets, mow the field and fundraise for our national team to compete overseas. His rise to CONCACAF and FIFA was as a direct result of this type of hard work, dedication and love for the people’s game.
“In my opinion, he is innocent,” Mr. Rankin said, “and our community should stand behind him as he goes through the process with the justice system.” Webb is listed in the Cayman Islands electoral roll as resident at a home in Savannah, Newlands.
His ex-wife answered the door at the address on Thursday, but said the family had no immediate comment.
Webb has also been linked to at least three properties in Georgia, in the United States, which U.S. prosecutors are seeking to seize as part of the case against him.
The three homes in Loganville, Stone Mountain and Conyers, Georgia, are included on a list of properties that prosecutors indicate should be forfeited if convictions are secured.
The indictment alleges that Webb, through an intermediary, arranged for bribes to be diverted for building work, including construction of a swimming pool, at his Georgia properties. No property or business in the Cayman Islands is listed for forfeiture.