Both Caymanian men who ostensibly ran the local branch of the company that was awarded a five-year, US$13 million contract to implement the CarePay hospital patient swipe-card system in December 2010 had close personal ties to businessman Jeffrey Webb, a Cayman Islands government minister told the Grand Court on Wednesday.
The two people named as directors of AIS (Advanced Integrated Systems) Cayman Ltd., Joscelyn Morgan and Eldon Rankin, have been described by prosecutors as “sham” frontmen directors. Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran has alleged that the two were placed in their positions by Webb and his business associate Canover Watson so that Webb and Watson could “cover up” their personal involvement in the company.
Watson is on trial related to allegations that he used his former position as chairman of the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority board to steer hundreds of thousands of dollars to various companies and bank accounts in which he and/or Webb had a controlling interest.
Webb, who is also charged in the CarePay case, is in the United States, facing sentencing in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation. He is not on trial in the Cayman matter currently before the court.
Cayman Islands Finance Minister Marco Archer testified Wednesday that he became aware of concerns with the CarePay contract in June 2014, when North Side MLA Ezzard Miller raised questions about it in the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee. Following that assembly meeting, Mr. Archer vowed to get to the bottom of the AIS/CarePay contract issues.
Mr. Archer said he wondered at the time how a man like Eldon Rankin, whom he had known personally for more than three decades and who had been something of a parental figure to him, could have become involved in a software technology company like AIS.
“I’ve never seen him at a computer,” Mr. Archer said of Mr. Rankin. “I’ve never received an email from him and I know better than to send him an email. He’s not technologically savvy.”
Mr. Archer said he also wondered how Mr. Rankin and Mr. Morgan, who were not particularly closely associated, could have come together and formed such a company as AIS Cayman Ltd.
Watson’s defense attorney, Trevor Burke, QC, asked Mr. Archer if he knew Mr. Rankin was Webb’s stepfather. Mr. Archer said he knew that.
He also testified that Mr. Morgan, a former local football coach, and Webb likely would have known each other from their association with Cayman Islands football activities over the years. Webb is the former president of the Cayman Islands Football Association.
“Did it dawn on you at the time [June 2014] … that they both had relationships of sorts with Webb?” Mr. Burke asked.
Mr. Archer answered, “Yes, I was looking at [company registry documents] and wondering how a man who I know to be very technologically challenged could be the director of a multimillion-dollar technology software company.
“I wondered how Mr. Morgan and Mr. Rankin would have come together as directors of a company when neither of the two had any experience … with even a software company. The only thing that Mr. Morgan did was football and his job, and the only person I could think of that they knew in common was Webb.”
Mr. Rankin is listed as a witness in the ongoing trial. Mr. Morgan, who is believed to have left the Cayman Islands sometime last year, is not expected to appear as a witness.
It was previously stated during the trial that Mr. Archer had arranged a meeting in October 2014 of several civil servants, including senior staff members at the Ministry of Health, regarding issues surrounding the CarePay contract.
Mr. Archer confirmed Wednesday that he did arrange such a meeting and that officers with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service were in attendance. Mr. Archer further testified that he did not stay at this meeting during the police questioning, but that he merely sought to arrange it in an attempt to assist the police.
Mr. Burke suggested this was a surprise meeting in that some civil servants who attended did not realize police were going to be there.
Mr. Archer confirmed that he had received an email about two weeks prior to the meeting from Cayman Islands National Insurance Company chief executive Lonny Tibbetts regarding certain details of the CarePay contract. Mr. Tibbetts urged Mr. Archer to have a meeting about the matter, Mr. Burke suggested.
“Mr. Tibbetts indicated he had a feeling he was under suspicion in some way,” Mr. Burke said. Mr. Tibbetts, who testified in the case Tuesday, said everyone involved in the CarePay contract was “ill at ease” with the police investigation at that stage.
“If there’s an allegation of misconduct or inappropriateness, then everyone who touched this pot of food was responsible for it,” Mr. Tibbetts said, describing the mood of government employees at the time.
Mr. Burke suggested to Mr. Archer that the RCIPS Anti-Corruption Unit essentially asked him to “back off” his own inquiries since police were already looking into the matter.
“The message was that it is being investigated … we will take over, we don’t want politicians investigating on our behalf?” Mr. Burke asked.
“They never quite said it that way, but you’re free to interpret it that way,” Mr. Archer said.
Mr. Archer further clarified: “With respect to the meeting you refer to [the October meeting with police], I arranged the meeting and I left. I did not stay in that meeting.”