CarePay: Crown, Watson’s attorneys make final arguments

Crown prosecutors began closing speeches Thursday morning in the criminal trial of Canover Watson, who is accused in connection with a scheme to defraud the Cayman Islands government in relation to the CarePay patient swipe-card contract for the public hospital system.

Watson has pleaded not guilty to all six charges in the indictment.

The Cayman Compass is awaiting the completion of both prosecution and defense closings prior to reporting the comments made by both sides. The closings were expected to wrap up on Friday.

The six counts against Watson mention the involvement of his friend and business associate Jeffrey Webb in connection with what prosecutors allege was a conspiracy to defraud. Webb is also charged by the Crown but is not facing trial over his alleged actions in Cayman at this time.

Watson’s former personal assistant, Miriam Rodriguez, was acquitted in the case by order of Grand Court Justice Michael Mettyear. Ms. Rodriguez had been charged in count number 5 of the indictment – alleging the transfer of criminal property – but the jury found her not guilty earlier this month after Judge Mettyear essentially ruled the Crown had not proven its case.

The indictment

Count 1: Conspiracy to defraud – Watson is charged in this common law offense with disguising his, and business partner Webb’s involvement in the affairs of AIS Cayman Ltd., the local arm of the company that was awarded the five-year, US$13 million CarePay contract. Watson is accused of “adjusting” upward a cost proposal for the CarePay contract so he and Webb could profit from it.

Count 2: Conspiracy to defraud – Watson is charged with misrepresenting to government officials the nature of the CarePay contract and what the funds paid toward it would be used for.

Count 3: Conflict of Interest, Section 19, Anti-Corruption Law – Watson is accused of operating as a public official (chairman of the Health Services Authority board of directors) without disclosing his personal interests in AIS Cayman Ltd. and a related firm known as The W Group.

Count 4: Fraud on the government, Section 11, Anti-Corruption Law – Watson is accused of accepting rewards totaling nearly US$350,000 from government while acting as a public officer without the consent of government.

Count 5: Transferring criminal property, Section 133, Proceeds of Crime Law – Watson is accused of transferring funds derived from criminal activities within the jurisdiction of the Cayman Islands.

Count 6: Breach of trust, Section 13, Anti-Corruption Law – Watson is alleged to have breached the standards required of a public officer in a number of ways, including his failure to disclose business interests in the CarePay contract and other related companies.

Following the closing speeches, Judge Mettyear is expected to begin his “summing up” of the evidence in the case. At press time Thursday, that process was expected to begin on Tuesday, Feb. 2. Jurors could receive the case to decide a verdict as early as Wednesday, Feb. 3.