Watson, Blake deny CIFA fraud-related charges

Canover Watson and Bruce Blake

Two former soccer officials have denied multiple corruption charges linked to claims they fraudulently funnelled cash through the Cayman Islands Football Association bank account.

Bruce Blake, who was vice president of CIFA, and Canover Watson, former treasurer, appeared at the Grand Court on Wednesday, 6 Jan.

Blake was charged with one count of acquiring criminal property, while Watson faces two counts of transferring criminal property, and one count of secret commissions. In addition, Blake and Watson, both 37, were each charged with one count of false accounting, plus one count of entering into an arrangement with the other.

The charges allege that between February 2013 and December 2014, the pair used Panama-based Cartan International Sports Management Inc. and Forward Sports Management Inc. to fraudulently transfer millions of US dollars to a Cayman Islands bank account.

Along with allegations of defrauding CIFA, both men are alleged to have defrauded regional football governing body CONCACAF (Confederation of North and Central America and Caribbean Association Football).

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In one charge, Watson is said to have submitted three fraudulent invoices, totalling US$1,540,900, to CONCACAF between July and October 2012.

The charges were flagged in 2015 after auditors who were reviewing CIFA’s books spotted financial irregularities and notified authorities.

Blake and Watson both pleaded not guilty to all the charges and were released on bail.

Cayman Compass understands a new indictment is expected in the coming weeks.

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