Top officials at Fidelity Bank in the Cayman Islands confirmed Friday that Jeffrey Webb remained employed at the bank on a part-time consulting contract until the end of 2012, which includes the period when he is alleged to have solicited bribes via intermediaries in exchange for awarding the commercialization rights to certain football tournaments.
Also during the period, between June and July 2012, it is alleged that two cash payments totaling US$55,000 were collected from Fidelity Bank and taken in envelopes to the offices of local financial services company Admiral Administration. The envelopes were allegedly left with the personal assistant for Canover Watson, who has been charged in connection with a Cayman Islands money laundering probe unrelated to the U.S. federal court indictments against Webb.
According to court records, the cash envelopes were later handed to an unidentified third party not connected with Admiral Administration. Watson no longer works at Admiral, but was employed at the time as the company’s managing director. Webb has never been linked to the local money laundering probe involving Watson and his personal assistant, Miriam Rodriguez.
According to a statement provided by a Fidelity spokesperson Friday: “[Webb] resigned with effect from the end of March 2012 and remained on as a part-time consultant until the end of 2012.”
Webb became CONCACAF president in May 2012.
Fidelity Bank released a further statement Monday indicating that the bank has contracted with accounting firm Deloitte to “confirm they are in line with regulatory requirements.”
The bank has also consulted with the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority regarding the internal review and said the authority will help prepare the terms of reference for the work, to ensure that the review covers any questions that CIMA may have.
“These are matters of significant complexity, and the expertise of this ‘big four’ firm is second to none,” Fidelity Bank Chairman Anwer Sunderji said. “They have the appropriate breadth of experience to assess Fidelity Bank’s processes to ensure they are sufficiently robust.”
According to federal court indictments from the U.S. District Court made public last month, separate bribe payments funneled through U.S., Hong Kong and Cayman Islands bank accounts, were negotiated in 2012 with Webb and then-CONCACAF general secretary Enrique Sanz, who is identified in the indictment as “co-conspirator #4.”
The indictment states that the 2012 discussions were to negotiate the media and marketing rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup qualifier matches. These rights were being sought by a U.S. subsidiary of the Brazilian-based Traffic Group – Traffic USA – which wanted to buy the rights from the Caribbean Football Association, federal court records state. Co-conspirator #4 was employed by the Traffic Group at the time, but later on in the year became the general secretary of CONCACAF.
Near the end of these talks, co-conspirator #4 met with another now-indicted defendant, Costas Takkas, identified as a close associate of Webb’s. The meeting took place in Hungary. “Takkas told co-conspirator #4 that Webb wanted a US$3 million bribe in exchange for the [football union] contract to be awarded to Traffic USA,” the court records state.
It is further alleged that the bribe was split among two companies, Traffic USA and another company identified as “Sports Marketing Company C,” so that both would pay US$1.5 million to Webb. It is further alleged that Traffic USA’s payment was transmitted to Takkas through a Miami bank to an HSBC bank in Buffalo, New York, and eventually transferred to an HSBC bank in Hong Kong. The indictment alleges that two wire transfers totaling US$1 million were sent from Hong Kong to a correspondent account in New York City for credit to an account in the name of Kosson Ventures – a company controlled by Takkas – at Fidelity Bank in the Cayman Islands.
The records state that the remaining US$500,000 owed by Traffic USA was paid into another account controlled by Takkas at Fidelity Bank in the Cayman Islands.
“Takkas subsequently transferred the funds to an account in the name of a swimming pool builder at United Community Bank in Blairsville, Georgia,” the criminal complaint reads. “[This was] for the benefit of the defendant Jeffrey Webb, who was having a pool built at his residence in Loganville, Georgia.”
Federal prosecutors state that Takkas’s participation in the funds transfer was “more intermediary” in nature and was “designed to conceal the fact that Jeffrey Webb was the beneficiary of the payment.”
It was unclear from the indictment whether Webb ever received the other half of the alleged bribe money from “Sports Marketing Company C.”
Cayman Islands police investigators looking into fraud and money laundering allegations against Watson and Rodriguez are probing two cash payments prosecutors have connected to the case, at least one of which was withdrawn from an account at Fidelity Bank, the Cayman Compass has learned.
Watson faces 10 charges in Cayman Islands Grand Court for which he is due to stand trial in November, including six charges for alleged money laundering. Watson’s former personal assistant, Ms. Rodriguez, also faces two charges of money laundering in the Grand Court and a November trial date.
The money laundering allegations against Rodriguez relate to separate amounts totaling US$25,000 and US$30,000 that she is accused of handling on behalf of Watson. The money laundering charges allege that in June and July 2012, Ms. Rodriguez possessed “criminal property” that represented, either directly or indirectly, the benefits of criminal conduct totaling US$55,000.
The allegation in the charges against Rodriguez is that while working at Admiral Administration, she 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 court records was not connected with Admiral Administration. AIS – Advanced Information Systems [Cayman] Ltd. – is a company in which Watson had a substantial beneficial interest, according to Crown prosecutors, and to which multimillion-dollar healthcare-related contracts were awarded while he served as chairman of the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority board of directors.