Forensic accountants to review FIFA bank transactions

An international accounting firm is being brought in to assist the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority with a forensic review of any local bank transactions connected to the U.S.-based indictments of FIFA officials, including any transactions linked to Cayman’s Jeffrey Webb and former Cayman resident Costas Takkas, the new chairman of the monetary authority said Wednesday. 

Grant Stein, who was named to the position on July 21, said he will attend his first meetings with the newly appointed CIMA board of directors next week and indicated he was keen to ensure that allegations of conflicts in relation to the FIFA investigation stay well away from Cayman’s financial services industry regulator. 

The issue of conflicts arose in early June, when it was revealed that CIMA Managing Director Cindy Scotland’s husband, former government minister Mark Scotland, has worked since last year for the Cayman Islands Football Association under its president, Webb, and was in Switzerland with Webb at the time of Webb’s arrest on May 27. In addition, former government minister Cline Glidden’s wife Gloria serves as deputy head of CIMA’s banking division. Mr. Glidden was also in Switzerland with Webb for FIFA’s annual meeting prior to the arrests and was working for CONCACAF on the creation of a regional football dispute resolution court. 

Mr. Stein said there had been no allegations of wrongdoing against either Mr. Scotland or Mr. Glidden stemming from the FIFA probe, but he said the formation of a separate CIMA internal committee should quiet concerns over apparent conflicts. 

“Anybody that has any connections to anyone in the [U.S. investigation] … has been recused,” Mr. Stein said. “I think that CIMA … has and will play an important role in the reputation of the Cayman Islands as an international financial center. As the new chair, I can assure everyone we will be working very closely with these investigations.” 

Former CIMA Chairman George McCarthy said in June that the agency would create an internal committee following Webb’s arrest in Switzerland on U.S.-based charges of racketeering and money laundering. Webb is the former FIFA vice president and ex-CONCACAF president and has been accused of soliciting bribes through his attaché, Takkas, in exchange for awarding lucrative football tournament commercialization contracts to select sports marketing firms. 

At least one current and one former Cayman Islands bank, Fidelity and Barclays, were named in connection with the U.S. federal court indictments, although neither bank was accused of wrongdoing in court records. 

The three-person internal committee, consisting of CIMA head of banking Charles Ilako, head of compliance R.J. Berry and deputy general counsel Andre Mon Desir, will present a report to CIMA’s “non-executive board” – meaning without CIMA’s managing director being present – relative to the auditors’ and its own findings, Mr. Stein said. 

The purpose of appointing the committee, Mr. Stein said, was to separate any investigations CIMA and its forensic accounting consultants conduct into the local financial transactions referenced in the U.S. indictment from whoever in the regulatory authority may have “connections” to Webb. In effect, the appointment of the internal review committee to investigate FIFA-related transactions means anyone at CIMA with those connections has been recused from the investigation, Mr. Stein said. 

For the time being, the CIMA committee and its forensic accountants will focus only on the Fidelity Bank transactions identified in the U.S. indictment released on May 27, Mr. Stein said. If there were other areas of concern identified in the course of the review, the investigation could expand, he said. 

Mr. Stein said his appointment and the appointment of three other new CIMA board members on July 21 was unrelated to the ongoing investigations concerning the FIFA matter. 

“Those were people whose terms had simply come up,” he said. 

Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton said Tuesday that additional appointments to the CIMA board would be forthcoming shortly to provide a full complement of members to the regulatory authority board.

For the Cayman Compass’s full FIFA coverage, visit the Compass Data Desk.

Mr. Stein
Mr. Stein