Watson says Webb was AIS owner

| 13/01/2016 | 0 Comments
Cayman News Service

Jeffrey Webb

(CNS): Former chair of the Health Services Authority, Canover Watson, has pointed to his close friend and business partner, Jeffrey Webb, as the real beneficial owner of AIS Cayman Ltd, which secured the lucrative contract for the hospital payment and verification system, but has denied having any interest himself in the business. Trevor Burke QC made an opening statement to the jury Tuesday ahead of Watson taking the stand today.

The defence attorney painted a glowing picture of his client, who, he said, is wrongly accused because it was Webb who was “at the centre of this” but was trying to hide it because of a divorce.

Webb, who has been convicted in the United States in the massive FIFA scandal, is charged in the CarePay case but due to his current circumstances he is not on trial at present and it will be a long time before he will answer the charges in person.

While the crown took almost a week to present its case to the jury against Watson, Burke spent just over an hour outlining the defence of his client.

Focusing heavily on his good character and standing in the community and as the person given the mandate of addressing the critical debt issues at the hospital, Burke said his client would be called a liar when cross-examined and any witnesses called on his behalf would also be accused of lying because the crown saw the case as black and white. Burke said the prosecution would bat hard in a “gladiatorial contest” to prove its case.

Justifying Watson’s very close involvement with AIS, Burke claimed that the Jamaican company was the only one that could solve the local hospital’s problem. He said the only reason why there was a request for proposals was because of the perception that Brac Informatics would want to bid on the business and so, to avoid any potential problems, the project was tendered. But the health minister, the premier and everyone else involved wanted AIS to fix the problem, which no other person had been able to resolve, he said.

Burke said AIS Cayman Ltd was formed because, as part of the contract, Doug Halsall, the head of AIS in Jamaica, had to have a local presence and therefore a local partner, which turned out to be Jeffrey Webb.

He said that by securing Webb’s banking details, Watson had been able to track the money his friend had received from AIS, and while no one can know for sure, Watson now suspects that Webb was hiding his involvement in the company from everyone because of his divorce. The defence attorney said there was an “awful lot more” going on in this case than meets the eye, as he pointed to Webb as the culprit in any wrongdoing.

Burke suggested that Webb was trying to keep the details from his soon to be ex-wife about the firm. Webb had managed to secure a good deal in his divorce and gave his wife of more than twenty years almost nothing, he said, and implied that it was Webb who took some $500,000 from the AIS account to pay for his home in Atlanta, which caused problems with Halsall.

However, Watson is not allowed to contact anyone involved in the case so he has struggled to piece together what has happened through the documents and Webb’s banking transactions, Burke told the jury, implying that his client knew nothing before the trial. He said Watson was never a beneficial owner of the firm and that they should not confuse what Webb was doing with what his client was doing, which was trying to address the hospital’s bad debt.

The case continues.

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Category: Courts, Crime

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