Pharmaceutical contract draws prosecutors' scrutiny


A contract the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority awarded in 2011 to a company Crown prosecutors charge was “controlled” by two local businessmen is drawing the attention of authorities, in addition to the 2010 contract for the CarePay hospital patient swipe-card agreement currently under investigation. 

It has been alleged in court that Canover Watson used his former position as chairman of the Health Services Authority to obtain both the CarePay contract and the 2011 deal to set up a computer tracking system for pharmaceuticals. In court charges made public last week, it is alleged that Watson and former FIFA Vice President Jeffrey Webb acted as “controllers and beneficiaries” of the local company that was awarded those contracts, Advanced Integrated Systems (AIS) Cayman, Ltd. 

The charges revealed last week that the two men “intended to go into business setting up a pharmacy” that would eventually benefit from the 2011 pharmaceutical tracking system awarded to AIS Cayman Ltd. 

The charges, filed under section 13 of Cayman’s Anti-Corruption Law, allege that Watson, Webb “and others” – unnamed in the court records – failed to publicly disclose their intentions to go into the pharmacy business at the time the contract was being awarded to a company they controlled, in contravention of the law. 

Court records allege that at least three separate companies were formed by Webb, Watson or both, in Cayman and elsewhere in the Caribbean that “intended to benefit” from funds paid to AIS Cayman Ltd. 

It is not known how much money AIS Cayman received for the pharmaceuticals contract, but charges allege that a total of US$3 million was paid to the local company in Health Services Authority contracts. 

In addition, the anti-corruption charges against Webb and Watson allege that the two men had been assisting “one of the bidders” in relation to the preparation of their bid for the CarePay contract. This was also not disclosed, prosecutors allege. 

During a court hearing earlier this year, Cayman’s Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran alleged: “Mr. Watson was giving specific instruction to individuals who might be described as ‘the public face of AIS (Cayman)’ as to what should be said to members of the Health Services Authority in order to win more business.” 

The registered directors of AIS Cayman Ltd., according to the Registrar of Companies as of March 31, 2011, did not list either Webb or Watson, court records stated. Two directors of the company were publicly identified last year by Finance Minister Marco Archer as local resident Joscelyn Morgan and Jamaican businessman Douglas Halsall. A third person has been identified as a local director of AIS Cayman Ltd., but that person was not named by Mr. Archer. 

Webb and Watson were each charged on July 3 with various offenses in connection with the December 2010 award of the CarePay swipe-card contract and the pharmaceutical system contract by the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority to AIS Cayman Ltd. 

Watson has previously denied all allegations of corrupt acts in statements made to the press. Webb is currently in the process of being extradited to the U.S. from Switzerland on separate charges filed in U.S. federal court in connection with an international racketeering and bribery probe involving FIFA, 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.

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Jeffrey Webb