In the midst of the ongoing local “Sturm und Drang” regarding this government and this newspaper, it is important that we not lose sight of Cayman’s role in the FIFA scandal, namely the arrest and indictment of Cayman’s former football leader Jeffrey Webb and the growing list of other local entities and individuals who have found themselves ensnared by association in the worldwide probe of U.S. allegations. For starters:
Mr. Webb, the former FIFA VP, CONCACAF president and Cayman Islands Football Association president, remains in Swiss custody pending extradition to the U.S., where he faces 15 counts related to alleged bribery, money laundering and racketeering.
Costas Takkas, Mr. Webb’s CONCACAF attaché and former CIFA general secretary who spent more than two decades in Cayman, was arrested along with Mr. Webb and others in Zurich on May 27. He faces seven counts, including racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy. U.S. prosecutors allege that millions of dollars in bribery payments to Mr. Webb were routed through Cayman’s Fidelity Bank (Mr. Webb’s former employer) via accounts controlled by Mr. Takkas.
Canover Watson, former CIFA treasurer, sat on a three-person CONCACAF committee that evaluated bids for a US$15.5 million contract that now forms part of the U.S. investigation into FIFA. Separately, Mr. Watson (the former chairman of Cayman’s Health Services Authority) faces 10 charges in Cayman’s Grand Court, including six charges for alleged money laundering, related to a local investigation into the public health agency’s CarePay system. At least one cash payment Cayman prosecutors have connected to the case involves an account at Fidelity Bank.
Cindy Scotland, the head of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, is married to former Minister Mark Scotland, who was in Zurich with Cayman’s football delegation when Messrs. Webb and Takkas were arrested. Last year, Mr. Scotland began working for Mr. Webb as youth development director of CIFA. The Compass Editorial Board — while highlighting that Mr. Scotland has not been accused of any wrongdoing whatsoever — has called on Mrs. Scotland to recuse herself from all matters that come before CIMA involving the unfolding FIFA scandal. To date, she has not done so.
In another real or perceived conflict of interest, Gloria Glidden, deputy head of CIMA’s banking division, is married to former Minister Cline Glidden (also accused of no wrongdoing whatsoever), who has been working with CONCACAF on the creation of a regional football dispute resolution court and who, too, was in Switzerland with the Cayman delegation at the time of Mr. Webb’s arrest. Additionally, Mrs. Glidden is a former employee of Admiral Administration, where she worked with Mr. Watson.
Tellingly, on Monday night, lawmakers on the Finance Committee voted, with no debate, to continue the provision of public funding to CIFA to the tune of $127,775 for the coming year.
We are not saying that legislators should have revoked or even reduced funding for CIFA’s local programs. However, when they were presented with a germane opportunity to speak on the topic of international allegations of actual corruption involving Cayman and FIFA, the premier and his Progressives government gave the parliamentary equivalent of “no comment.”
As we enter our long holiday weekend and prepare to celebrate the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, we want to assure our readers that our reporters will continue to focus on covering — and never ignoring — the news events that are important to Cayman, Caymanians, expatriates, residents, investors, visitors and observers … in short, our readers.