Jury selection in the corruption trial of Canover Watson, Cayman’s former Health Services Authority board chairman, is due to begin in mid-November, Crown prosecutors confirmed Monday.
Watson, 44, faces about a dozen charges in connection with the awarding of two contracts to the Cayman Islands public hospital system in 2010 and 2011. His former personal assistant, Miriam Rodriguez, also faces a handful of charges in connection with the scheme.
Jury selection for the defendants, who will be tried jointly, is due to begin the week of Nov. 16, with trial evidence slated to begin about a week later, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran said.
Cayman Islands businessman Jeffrey Webb, who is also charged in a portion of the case, is on bail from a U.S. court. He faces charges in a separate, unrelated criminal matter and will not appear in Cayman for the start of Watson and Rodriguez’s trial. “Anyone else charged [in the CarePay investigation] won’t be tried on that date,” Mr. Moran said.
The Crown expects the trial of Rodriguez and Watson to take several weeks and last at least until Christmas.
Webb and Watson were each charged in July with various offenses connected to the December 2010 award of the CarePay swipe-card contract by the Health Services Authority to Advanced Integrated Systems (AIS) Cayman Ltd. Additional allegations are made in the charges regarding the 2011 award of a computerized pharmaceutical tracking system for the Health Services Authority, also to AIS Cayman Ltd.
Watson served as chairman of the Health Services Authority board of directors at the time both contracts were awarded to the company, which Crown prosecutors allege he controlled. In all previous statements to the press, Watson has denied allegations of corrupt acts.
The Cayman Islands charges allege that 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 penal code. Rodriguez was also charged in connection with the alleged conspiracy to convert criminal property.
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 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 Ministry of Health and to 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. 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.
The conspiracy to convert criminal property charges filed against Webb, Watson and Rodriguez under the penal code allege that those three “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 faces an additional 10 charges that were filed in 2014 following his arrest. Those charges, brought under the Proceeds of Crime Law, include six for alleged money laundering, relating to US$169,000, covering the period from Dec. 30, 2010 to June 2012. He is also charged with failing to disclose a pecuniary interest, breach of trust, fraud on the government, and conflict of interest.
Rodriguez faces one fraud-related charge in the investigation under section 11 of the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Law and two charges of money laundering. The money laundering allegations relate to separate amounts, totaling US$30,000 and US$25,000, that Rodriguez is accused of handling on behalf of Watson, who was managing director at Admiral Administration.