One man and six women must now decide the fate of Cayman Islands businessman Canover Watson, charged in six separate counts related to alleged corrupt acts involving the award of a public hospital system patient services contract.
The jury received final instructions from Grand Court Justice Michael Mettyear Wednesday afternoon and began deliberating the case, which has been ongoing since late November.
The seven-member jury will be required to decide a guilty or not guilty verdict on each count of the indictment against Watson.
The former managing director of financial services company Admiral Administration and recipient of the 2007 Young Caymanian Leadership Award is accused of personally benefitting from the 2010 award of the CarePay patient swipe-card contract to a company he and business partner Jeffrey Webb are alleged to have controlled from behind the scenes.
The Crown alleges Watson directed that contract award, worth millions of dollars a year, to the local company – AIS (Advanced Integrated Systems) Cayman Ltd. – and its Jamaican business associates while he chaired the Health Services Authority board of directors.
Watson denies all the allegations. His defense suggests that the accusations made by the prosecution are largely based on a misreading of the evidence before the court. Watson has denied any beneficial interest in AIS Cayman and testified that monies paid to him by Webb between 2010 and 2012 were sums he was owed previously by his friend and associate – not a reward given for his assistance in procuring the CarePay contract.
To convict on any one count of the indictment, the seven jurors must agree the Crown has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
It is possible Justice Mettyear could allow for a majority verdict on any of the counts, meaning at least five jurors must agree Watson is guilty on some or all of the counts.
Agreement as to Watson’s guilt by fewer than five jurors on any of the counts means he must be found not guilty on those counts.
Watson faces two counts of conspiracy to defraud under the common law, one charge related to money laundering activities, and charges of breach of trust, fraud on the government and conflict of interests under the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Law.
Justice Mettyear was clear in his instructions to the jury that the charges against Watson are not a “package deal” and that each count must be considered separately.
It is entirely possible that jurors might believe Watson to be guilty on some of the charges and not others. The judge instructed that a “mix and match” verdict would be just as acceptable as finding Watson guilty on all counts or not guilty on all counts.