Watson asked IT boss to delete emails

| 05/01/2016 | 0 Comments
Cayman News Service

Canover Watson

(CNS): As the trial of Canover Watson over corruption charges in relation to a hospital contract resumed Monday after the Christmas adjournment, the court heard that some time before he was arrested Watson asked the IT manager at his office to delete what turned out to be incriminating email files from the company server. At the time Watson was the managing director of Admiral, a financial institution, which has since been taken over by Maitland.

William Loblaw, the information technology administrator at the financial firm, was asked to delete all emails Watson had sent and received from a list of addresses relating to AIS Cayman Ltd, the firm that won the contract.

While this was not a normal request, Loblaw believed he had successfully deleted the messages as instructed, he told the court, but he later discovered that the information was still stored on another server. The jury was told that, as a result, after Watson’s arrest the police were able to retrieve the emails, many of which now form the evidence against him.

The jury also heard how police were able to extract documents relating to the CarePay contract with AIS Ltd that Watson had scanned, emailed and stored in a folder on the company system.

During cross-examination defence counsel Trevor Burke QC established that Watson had asked other people in the IT department several years before to remove some of his personal correspondence from the server. He suggested that with the impending takeover of the firm, correspondence between Watson and the health minister or others relating to his government work had nothing to do with Admiral and he was perfectly within his right to remove communication that related to his board work with the health ministry and other public entities.

But during re-examination by the prosecution Loblaw confirmed that none of the email addresses he had been told to delete were government addresses.

Loblaw confirmed that following Watson’s arrest seven flash drives were found in Watson’s office at Admiral during police searches and these were inspected by police experts, who had extracted certain information from them.

He said those drives were left with the firm and not removed by police because of a court order limiting the information that the police could take to protect their client files. But those flash drives have since gone missing. Loblaw said he was led to believe by another senior manager at the firm that after the police had finished with them, they had been given to Watson.

Burke pressed both Loblaw and later an IT expert that works with the police, both of whom confirmed that the flash drives were not taken by officers during the investigation. However, Burke made it clear that they had never made their way back to Watson.

The jury heard that after his arrest Watson was suspended and he never returned to his office. His personal possessions at the office were packed up and sent to him by courier but Burke said the drives were not in the box and have never been seen since.

Watson is facing several charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering in relation to the multi-million dollar CarePay contract, an electronic verification and payment system that was meant to help the hospital address its bad debt and payment problems.

The crown claims that Watson, with the assistance of his best friend and business partner, the disgraced former football boss, Jeffrey Webb, not only manipulated the tendering process to secure the lucrative government deal for the Jamaica-based firm AIS but that he was one of the main beneficiaries of AIS Cayman Ltd, which he created to handle the contract locally.

The crown also claims that Miriam Rodrigues, his personal assistant at Admiral, helped Watson and Webb in the movement of money relating to the contract and she is facing money laundering charges.

Webb, who was the only signatory on the bank account for AIS Cayman Ltd, is also charged with various corruption offences but he is not on trial at this time. He remains under house arrest in Atlanta, Georgia following his recent admission to several offences relating to the massive US probe into FIFA corruption. Webb is expected to be sentenced in June over the FIFA allegations.

The CarePay case continues this week, when the crown is expected to finish presenting its evidence against Watson and Rodrigues.

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Category: Courts, Crime

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