Claiming the organization has been “defrauded” of funds, the Cayman Islands Football Association signaled this week that it would attempt to claw back some of that money via “appropriate legal action.”
CIFA had earlier announced its intention to hire an independent accounting firm to perform a forensic audit of its finances. A statement released Monday afternoon indicated the purpose of that audit.
“This independent forensic review and audits will provide the basis for appropriate legal action in the future aimed at the restitution of funds defrauded from the association,” the statement read. “CIFA continues to reaffirm its commitment to transparency and accountability.”
The funds that were “defrauded” apparently relate to nearly CI$1 million in loans to CIFA in 2013 by private companies – loans that were later re-categorized as “gifts” from sponsors.
A December 2015 lawsuit filed in a California court described the US$1.2 million in loans to CIFA as “graft,” alleging that two companies – Cartan Tours and Forward Sports – paid the money as bribes to former CIFA President Jeffrey Webb in order to win a lucrative business arrangement with CONCACAF, world football’s regional governing body for the Caribbean, North and Central America.
Webb was president of the Cayman Islands Football Association and CONCACAF at the time the loans issue arose. Bruce Blake, who was arrested last week in connection with the investigation into the loans, served as his first vice president.
Mr. Blake was “temporarily suspended” from the CIFA position he still held, CIFA said, pending the outcome of the Anti-Corruption Commission investigation against him and former CIFA treasurer Canover Watson.
Watson was also arrested last week by officers of the Anti-Corruption Commission.
The December 2015 California court filing, which was settled before trial, alleged that it was shortly after an October 2013 CONCACAF summit meeting when Cartan Tours made a “mysterious” US$600,000 loan to CIFA. According to the lawsuit, the US$600,000 was disbursed in an unsecured loan from a Panamanian bank account on Dec. 31, 2013. The loan agreement between CIFA and Cartan International Management Inc. was signed by Mr. Blake on behalf of CIFA, U.S. court records state.
A similar loan agreement from Forward Sports, received the same day, was also signed by Mr. Blake, who earlier refuted all allegations of wrongdoing in connection with the corruption probe. Mr. Blake, Watson and Webb have not been charged in Cayman with any crimes connected to the US$1.2 million “loan” matter.
Despite the allegations against its now-suspended first vice president, as well as its former president and former treasurer, CIFA’s press release stated, “It is understood that no charges have been brought against Mr. Blake and that the association itself is not under investigation.”