Unnamed “others” involved, not charged
Former FIFA Vice President Jeffrey Webb and Cayman Islands businessman Canover Watson have been identified in court charges as the “controllers and beneficiaries” of a local company that is embroiled in a corruption probe over the award of a public hospital patient swipe-card contract.
Webb and Watson were each charged last week with various offenses in connection with the December 2010 award of the CarePay swipe card contract by the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority to Advanced Integrated Systems (AIS) Cayman Ltd.
Watson served as chairman of the Health Services Authority board of directors at the time the contract was awarded to the company that Crown prosecutors allege he controlled.
In statements to the press, Watson has previously denied all allegations of corrupt acts.
Webb is being held in detention in Switzerland awaiting extradition on separate charges filed in U.S. federal court against him in connection with an international racketeering and bribery probe involving world football’s governing body.
The Cayman charges allege Webb and Watson jointly committed two counts of conspiracy to defraud under common law, one count of breach of trust by a public officer under the local Anti-Corruption Law and one count of conspiracy to convert criminal property under the local Penal Code.
Miriam Rodriguez, Watson’s former personal assistant at local financial services company Admiral Administration, was also charged in connection with the alleged conspiracy to convert criminal property.
The CarePay contract issue publicly arose in June 2014 during hearings before the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee in which lawmakers raised concerns about the swipe-card system’s overall operating costs. Those costs included a 4 percent payment made to AIS Cayman Ltd. on each insurer-approved healthcare transaction in the local public hospital system.
Legislators were incredulous at the time when it was revealed that, in addition to the 4 percent charge per transaction, the government had apparently handed over $2.4 million at the start of the contract that Cayman Islands National Insurance Company chief executive Lonny Tibbetts described as a “capitalization fee” and an additional US$1.4 million in system implementation costs.
One of the conspiracy to defraud charges alleges that during a period between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 21, 2013, Webb, Watson and “others” – who are left unnamed in the charges – conspired to defraud certain entities that entered into contracts with or provided funding to AIS Cayman Ltd. The charges allege that it was dishonestly represented to the government’s Ministry of Health and the Health Services Authority that funding granted for the “national rollout” of the CarePay system would be used for such purposes.
The other conspiracy to defraud charge alleges that AIS Cayman Ltd. was set up “in a manner which disguised the involvement of Webb and Watson as controllers and beneficiaries of the company.” It alleges that “false documents” were provided to Fidelity Bank in the Cayman Islands in order to obtain a bank account for AIS Cayman Ltd.
The breach of trust allegation, filed under Section 13 of the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Law, alleges that Watson breached the “standards of responsibility and conduct demanded” of him as chairman of the Health Services Authority board of directors. The Crown further alleges Webb aided and abetted Watson during the period the breach of trust offense was alleged to have been committed.
The breach of trust charges allege that Webb and Watson were the controllers and beneficiaries of AIS Cayman Ltd., which received more than US$3 million from Health Services Authority contracts. These interests in AIS Cayman Ltd. were not disclosed, the charges allege.
Webb and Watson also had directorship interests in other identified companies that prosecutors said were “intended to benefit” from funds paid to AIS Cayman Ltd.
The conspiracy to convert criminal property charges filed against Webb, Watson and Rodriguez under the Cayman Islands Penal Code allege that those three individuals “and others” – who were not identified – conspired to convert criminal property, namely funds paid to AIS Cayman Ltd. by the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority and the Cayman Islands National Insurance Company.
Watson and Rodriguez appeared in Summary Court on Tuesday and were due to appear again in Grand Court on July 17.
Criminal charges filed in the Cayman Islands court are allegations of crime and are not considered proof of wrongdoing until a case has been adjudicated as such.