A sum of $250,000 deposited in a Fidelity Bank account via the Cayman Islands Football Association through another local company was never returned to the company that paid it, Canover Watson testified Tuesday during his criminal trial.
The funds, previously flagged up in the trial as having been earmarked for a local football playing field project known as the Centre of Excellence, initially came from the local football association through a company known as Black Holdings. The $250,000 was placed into the account of a company named AIS (Advanced Integrated Systems) Cayman Ltd. and later transferred to a U.S. bank account to pay for a portion of local businessman Jeffrey Webb’s suburban Atlanta mansion.
Watson was asked Tuesday by his attorney, Trevor Burke, QC, about a “timeline of events” he created at the request of Webb in 2013. The timeline was created because AIS Cayman’s Jamaican business partner, Douglas Halsall, wanted a proper accounting of his profits from the Cayman Islands government’s CarePay swipe-card contract. Watson and Webb are both accused of conspiring to secure funds from that hospital contract for themselves while Watson served as chairman of the Health Services Authority board of directors.
Watson has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Webb, facing sentencing in an unrelated investigation taking place in the U.S., was not available to attend trial in Cayman.
The $250,000 Centre of Excellence funds came from a FIFA grant, Watson testified, and never involved money related to the CarePay project.
According to Watson, Webb told him to place an entry on the timeline being prepared for Mr. Halsall that stated that local businessman Peter Campbell, the owner of Black Holdings, had purchased 2.5 shares in AIS Cayman as a result of his $250,000 investment in April 2011.
At the time of the payment, Webb was the president of CIFA, Campbell was a vice president and Watson was CIFA’s treasurer.
Watson and his bookkeeper were attempting to reconcile the amounts spent from the AIS Cayman account between January 2011 and June 2013, accounts which Watson admitted were often confusing and difficult to decipher.
“Did you ever see any evidence of Mr. Campbell or Black Holdings having their CI$250,000 repaid?” Mr. Burke asked Watson.
Watson said it did not appear so. He said there were payments from the AIS account to Mr. Campbell directly, but he could not state exactly “what Mr. Campbell received from his investment.”
A final AIS Cayman account ledger prepared for Mr. Halsall by Watson and his bookkeeper was given to Mr. Halsall in 2013, and although he did not appear to be “entirely satisfied,” he agreed to “move forward” with the hospital contract in Cayman, Watson said.
The account ledger compiled by Watson and his bookkeeper, who was identified as one of his employees, Karen Barnett, showed a “series of payments” going to unnamed shareholders of AIS Cayman Ltd. during the life of the CarePay contract.
It is the Crown’s case that Watson is one of those shareholders – identified in the account ledger as “shareholder No. 2” – meaning Watson is accused of personally benefitting from a contract he directed the award of as Health Services Authority board chairman.
Watson denied that he was “shareholder No. 2” who, it was shown, had received half a dozen payments from the AIS Cayman account.
The account ledger also made reference to “shareholder No. 3” – who Watson said he thought was Webb – and “shareholder No. 4,” who he said he could not identify.
Some of the payments from the AIS Cayman Ltd. account that went to shareholders 3 and 4 appeared to be attributable to Webb, Watson told the jury.
According to official AIS Cayman company records, Webb was removed as a consultant from the company in July 2013 and ostensibly did not receive any payments after that.
Crown prosecutors have argued that Webb and Watson secretly controlled the activities of AIS Cayman Ltd. behind the scenes through the use of “sham” directors, one of whom was Webb’s stepfather.
Tuesday marked the last day of trial testimony in Watson’s case, which began trial proceedings on Nov. 23.
Jurors will receive the day off Wednesday as attorneys for both sides prepare their closing speeches. Those are expected to be delivered on Thursday and Friday.
Following the closing speeches, Grand Court Justice Michael Mettyear will deliver his “summing up” of the case evidence early next week. After that, the six woman, one man jury is expected to receive the case to decide a verdict.