Blake denies knowledge of frauds

| 09/02/2016 | 56 Comments
Cayman News Service

CIFA headquarters, Grand Cayman

(CNS): The acting president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, Bruce Blake, claims he had no idea what his former colleagues, Canover Watson and Jeffrey Webb, were up to regarding the allegations against them over the Cartan Tours deal with CONCACAF or the cash that moved in and out of the CIFA accounts. Blake, who was VP of CIFA when an unsecured “loan” from Cartan became a “gift” and when Webb was transferring funds to and from CIFA accounts in connection with money scammed from the hospital contract, said he had no idea why his millionaire friends may have been taking money from local football.

Blake told CNS he is now committed to finding out how much is missing and doing his best to recover the funds, adding that he was angry and disappointed that Webb and possibly Watson may have stolen money from CIFA when it was so strapped for cash.

“The thing that burns me is that I’m using my personal savings to subsidise local football to find that significant funds have been diverted,” he said, noting the wealth of his former CIFA executive colleagues and the freezing of government funds for the association.

“They knew I was stumping up cash,” he said. “How could they be so cold and break bread with me and know that they were diverting that money?”

Faced with a potential hole in the CIFA cashbox of a quarter of a million dollars, Blake said that as well as a review by a committee, he has asked for help from FIFA to conduct a full forensic audit of CIFA’s books, going all the way back to the 1990s.

“We just don’t know what has happened as the audits over the years never picked anything up,” Blake said when he spoke to CNS Monday about revelations that emerged during the recent CarePay trial, in which Watson was convicted of corruption.

The court heard that Webb had transferred money in and out of the CIFA accounts to and from bank accounts related to various businesses he was involved with, including AIS Cayman Ltd, Black Holdings Ltd and J&D International. One transfer of $250,000 to Black Holdings Ltd from CIFA, which was supposed to be for work on the Centre of Excellence, ended up in Webb’s US bank account to help buy his mansion in Georgia.

But with the CIFA account apparently being used interchangeably with the various business accounts that Watson and Webb controlled, Blake said there may be many more questionable transactions that have been missed by the auditors.

“We are now speaking with the relevant authorities about the money that was coming in and out and we will have to go back several years to look at the funds coming and going from our accounts,” Blake explained, pointing out that auditors are supposed to pick up on any questionable transactions over $5,000 but $250,000 had gone missing without being flagged.

Blake said that over the years, CIFA had used at least three different local professional audit firms to check the books, but it was not clear what they were told by Watson, who, as CIFA treasurer, held the purse strings throughout the period of time the questionable transactions happened. He also revealed that Watson kept a lot of the financial documents relating to CIFA at his home or his office and no one else saw them.

Blake said that he had trusted Watson to deal with the issue regarding the Cartan loan, which was revealed in a lawsuit filed by CONCACAF.

He said the offer of the unsecured loan was very welcome because at the time CIFA had a loan with Fidelity Bank that was secured against its HQ site. This created a problem getting FIFA funds because FIFA refuses to give grants and development aid to member associations if their properties are being used to secure other loans.

Blake said the money from Cartan that was agreed by Watson (though he admitted signing the deal) was paid directly to Fidelity, which then removed the charge on the CIFA property, paving the way for the GOAL funding. However, because CIFA is always struggling with funding, payments were not made to Cartan. But when Blake met with one of the firm’s executives at a football event some time in 2013 and apologised for the delaying in the repayments, he was told the “loan” was not a loan at all but a “gift”, he said.

As a result, Blake spoke to Watson directly and asked him to look into the situation, which, he admitted, “caught me by surprise”. He said it was good news for CIFA but there was “no way you would mistake a loan of that size for a gift”.

Blake said he left it in the hands of the treasurer; Watson and Webb were professional business men and everyone was busy, so he was not checking up on everything they did.

“I trusted them,” he said, adding that he had no reason to imagine the wealthy professional businessmen would be taking cash from the impoverished association.

Now CIFA is more strapped for cash than ever, Blake said, and it appears that money intended to support local football has been diverted elsewhere and may not have been returned. He said he had been having long discussions recently with FIFA and its legal professionals, who are going to help the local association undertake a detailed forensic audit of nearly 20 years of accounts. He noted that CIFA’s books are also audited by FIFA because of the financial assistance programmes and their accountants didn’t spot these issues either.

Blake was adamant that not only was he not involved in the alleged frauds but he was also unaware of them.

“I don’t tolerate stuff like that. Why take money from CIFA it doesn’t have money to take?” he said, angrily pointing to the local association’s dependence on FIFA and the generosity of local sponsors in Cayman. “I went out on a limb with when I was an associate at Maples and spent a year trying to get funding from them as sponsors,” he added.

Maintaining that he would not have risked his reputation, he pointed out that it was Watson and Webb, not him, who had the authority to sign the cheques.

“I’m now putting my money into CIFA to keep the operation going and keep the leagues running,” Blake said, adding that CIFA was now taking steps to do a proper investigation to find out what has happened and, if necessary, take legal action to get its money back.

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Comments (56)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    CNS, can you please contact Bruce Blake and ask why he has gone out to add more shame and disgrace to the Cayman Islands name in the world of football?

    The President of the CFU was deemed too corrupt to run for President of CONCACAF

    The CFU is accused of being crooked in the Jack Warner/Jeff Webb?Canover Watson vein.

    When the sh*t hits the fan once again, is he once again going to complain that he had no idea they were crooks when he went to “break bread” with them?

  2. J Bodden says:

    As a country, this issue embarrasses us and continues the supposition that we are all corrupt when our Gov’t does nothing! I am amazed at the lack of involvement of the Attorney General’s office in this matter. Maybe it is that our politicians are equally corrupt and have their hands in the FIFA/CIFA pie? The USA has called CONCACAF a criminal organization and is going to shut them down. When will we wake up and look into CIFA?

  3. Marathon says:

    BB is going out of his way for a closed door “forensic audit” by FIFA. Since when was FIFA an audit firm? If they were going to do it it would have to be done here in Cayman, that’s for sure. If any of the bigger firms here went in and did a forensic review they’d find fraud and larceny all over the place. By controlling the review process, BB can still keep a lid on most of it.

    While we are at it, whilst FIFA was crumbling who did BB vote for in the FIFA election? Why the biggest fraudster of all of course.

    Methinks BB is complicit to a degree at least. If not, as others have stated, his incompetence must be so extreme as to be almost unbelievable.

    • Conscience says:

      This is a call to all Cayman Islands football clubs to call for an Extraordonary General Meeting with the Association Executive to demand:

      1. That an immediate investigation be conducted of CIFAS affairs and accounts from the 1990,s to the present and that the Auditors report for the Congress where The President Mr. Webb bullied the members to extend the Presidents term of office. That Audit report will show the beginning of nefarious activities within CIFA.

      2. That there be a motion to suspend the present Executive from their duties and that an interim Executive be appointed from amongst the members until such a time as. The affairs and accounts of the Association are fully reviewed and a report made to the FIFA governing body and the temporary Executive. Moreover the clubs should seek to appoint an Interim Executive President that has no link to the present Executive to ensure utmost transparency.

      3. That The interim Executive be mandated to hold discussions with the Concacaf Exec and FIFA governing body ASAP as to New regulations, procedures and processes that will ensure adequate control measures are implemented, including a code of ethics that will serve to preserve the integrity of the accounts of the Organizations, and will provide for checks and balances that will seek to mitigate the risks and possibility of this type of fiasco ocurroing again within the Soccer fraternity internationally.

      The local cLubs executives need to understand that their reputation is also on the line in this whole fiasco and it is in the interest of the clubs they represent and indeed the sport and participants, especially the younger players to know and understand that the Administration of the sport they love and their personar integrity is one to be cherished and every step should be taken to preserve it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Maybe an audit of CIFA should include some of these clubs because they keep getting grants, corporate sponsors and there could be a common web with some or all of founding/executives of these clubs. Maybe that’s why they’re not putting pressure on Bruce

  4. Satirony says:

    “I have no recollection of that.” Quote from “Clear and Present Danger.”

  5. Anonymous says:

    I smell something, could it be BS?

  6. A Thief in the Night says:

    “How could they be so cold and break bread with me and know that they were diverting that money?” ~ Bruce Blake ©2016

    Break bread huh?

    Bread as in money/moola/dinero? I get’cha.

    Reminded me of this joke:

    Judas: still on for Friday?
    Jesus: Friday?
    Judas: yeah, the last supper
    Jesus: the what?
    Judas: supper. Normal supper with the fellas

  7. Anonymous says:

    Resign Bruce

  8. Realist Citizen says:

    Seriously! This is a saga of all sagas. Send the fool a little further. Shaggy said “it wasn’t me.” There are too many hands stirring this pot. Accountability is lacking here and hence the blame game. My recommendations. Get all the players in a room and do a lie detector test using an Independent testing. Chief Officer Ahearn too. She signed for a payout without proper knowledge of what she was signing for. Had that been an ordinary Civil Servant they would be suspended and suvsequently terminated. By her own admission in Court she failed to execute her duties in her capacity. Send her home and hold her accountable. Too many sitting in the wrong seats. More to come. A Royal mess.

  9. Sharkey says:

    I know that this is of subject , but we need to forget about these disgraceful criminals they have dug their hole they are in , let’s all pay attention to our feature .

    Mega yacht and cruise ship are destroying corals and environment, today Government and DOE is still talking about and making the penalty, reef restorations. How long do you think the reef and the environment would be able with stand this destruction ? We have to remember that the underwater environment is the main attraction to the Islands tourism which provides many jobs for the Islands.

    Can someone give a updated on all the sites that have been damaged , and reef restorations have been done to know if reef restorations is any help or what the reef restorations is all about. .I think that it’s time that we get down on Government and DOE and get moorings put in to a void the destruction of the underwater environment, forget about them criminals and look out for the future.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Boycott any CIFA sanctioned events starting with the “President Cup” final today. Time to show our player that we care, that change must take place. Do not give any more funds to an administration we can not trust. By the way, have anyone seem the flyer promoting tonight’s game. It portrays two foreign players totally unrelated to the game. CIFA not even had the decency to include local players to promote their own game. Disrespectful. The competing clubs should demand better. All this is aimed to demoralized our kids and hope they do not demand more form the local association.

  11. Anonymous says:

    This happened on his watch, if he knew he is complicit. If he didn’t know, he was incompetant. The whole organisation needs closign down, forensically examined and Cayman Islands Football administration starting from scratch. It’s not rocket science, but it continues……..

    • Chris Johnson says:

      The solution to the problem lies with the clubs who are members of CIFA. They need call a meeting replace the entire Executive Committee and take legal action to recover the monies that have been misappropriated. Have they the balls I wonder.

      • Anonymous says:

        Chris, you are correct. However, historically CIFA members clubs sing to the tune of who is in charge, for the last 20 years JW and his cronies. It is a completely demoralized group looking for personal rewards, e.g trips to WC, high profile friendly matches or 5star night clubs. Just like we are starting to see in Europe where fans are starting to get fed up with the abused by the clubs in regards to ticket pricing we have to do the same. Do not provide support to any CIFA event. Where do you thing the gate receipts from tonight’s game will go?

        • #COLDHARDTRUTH says:

          The leadership of the member clubs have been bought and paid for by Jeff Webb.

          Wake up he still runs CIFA from his house and directs the actions of the interim President of CIFA Bruce Blake and key next steps. XXXX Do you really think that Scholars, Elite, Bodden Town, Roma, Athletics, GT Sports Club, Sunset FC, Academy, Tigers and all the rest really want changes at CIFA? If so, why did they vote Bruce Blake into the position he holds now? He has always been a problem for CIFA but individuals like Gilly Seymour, Huta Ebanks, Elbert McLean and all the others who make a living from public funding are the loudest voices to support characters like Bruce Blake and his exec committee.

          The minute Jeff Webb plead guilty it should have signaled the need for change at CIFA but the ethics of the majority involved with local football have been compromised and the clubs sold out for cheap. Everybody attached to football over the last 20 years suspected and knew of the corruption and mismanagement but as along as they enjoyed the crumbs that were thrown their way it was alright.

          The only hope is pee wee and youth football everybody who supports the current regime has dirt on their hands. Sponsors need to pull all support then maybe the clubs will finally understand that they are as much to blame for the state of Cayman football as the CIFA Executive.

          • Anonymous says:

            It sounds like you know the ins and outs of the local scrimmage games. Happy you mention three sport dept employees whom for many years stood by and supported the corrupt regime waiting for handouts, like trips to New Zealand to play in some mickey mouse “PRESIDENT’S CUP” or the yearly Las Vegas tours, nice trips I am sure. This three “coaches” did not support change a the recent cifa elections, claiming that Renard Moxam had been away for many years, at least we know he was not taken part in the misappropriation of funds. We need some one to run cifa with a vision to the future, to allow our teams to compete in official tournaments like the CFU 2016 were Cayman is one the few members not to enter a team. For lack of funding I am sure, while JW had more than 20 very expensive watches and CW bought $100K sound system.

      • batman says:

        Just another day in the sleepy private sector. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  12. Anonymous says:

    10/02/2016 @7:17

    None other than the Minister of Health at the time who also is presumed to have given Watson the money for the CARE-PAY contract without even looking at the Contract

  13. Anonymous says:

    If what Blake says is true, and that is an if many do not believe, then he has been utterly incompetent and would have to step down, for the love of the game, if he had any integrity at all. He will not be standing down.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The oldest management excuse in the book.

    “I had no idea this was happening.”

    Zzzzzzzzzzz. Pants on fire.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The reason Blake is not stepping down is presumably because he needs to stay put and cover his tracks. If he steps aside then someone else comes in to reveal the whole sorry mess.

  16. Anonymous says:

    just another slush fund now out begging for money to help kids play football Most will end up in Northward just like the players before them and there mentors Another waste in Cayman

  17. Just saying like it is says:

    Everyone is slamming Bruce. When you are a member of a committee you assume that everyone is doing their part and being honest. Don’t get me wrong I am not giving anyone a pass here. Wrong is wrong, but what about Sue Nicholson who allegedly stole so much from the Pines. She’s living life in the UK, a country she can be extradited from. No one is making a fuss to have her brought back to pay for her crimes (apparently her husband paid back the money), but Locals are dragged through the mud whenever they commit similar crimes. There has been talk for many years that the CIFA money was being misused and this is a small Island so there is no way the politicians and Government officials did not hear. The Ministry of Sports and the politicians are just as responsible for this huge, huge, oversight. It so sad that for such a small country everyone is not held accountable for their actions, local or expatriate.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unlike Nicholson and her husband, Webb and Watson have not conceded any admission of possible misconduct nor have they made any gesture to pay anything back to Cayman Football. While the Cayman Islands Cabinet, SCU, and Blake dither on this reality, the US DoJ has been seizing the assets – and Cayman Football, and the kids of Cayman, will get screwed.

    • Anonymous says:

      I like it that Nicholson is being used to defend every local crook. Here is tip. Life is not unfair if you are a criminal and you are caught. End of story.

  18. Sol says:

    As a result of these new allegations, I believe it is high time CIMA REVIEW the financial reporting for ALL CLUBS AND ASSOCIATIONS. It is clear that money laundering, bribe and potentially racketeering is going on in these various clubs and associations. Are there due diligence being completed on the various boards? How are we certain funds from ISIS and the likes are not channeling there funds through these club? It was very easy for FIFA to issue a cheque to black holdings ltd with ultimately these funds being ending in mr. Webb’s accounts.

    Also who were the accountants that completed the audits for CIFA over the years? Are they abstained from any legal repercussions? Other persons and companies involved, what happens to them? It is so obvious that the elite were milking CIFA the cash cow.

    As being a tax paying resident I demand government to obtain restitution for my money that was stolen from the children and program.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Reading BB remarks we can draw some parallels with the Carepay case regarding CW dedication to put whatever work or hours to make sure the contract would move forward to the benefit of the population at large. Now BB have us believe he single handy has football being played in the Cayman Islands. He quit his lucrative job at the law firm and now he is using his savings to keep the game alive, even refusing assistance from the Cayman Islands government. Now that is some dedication.

  20. Knot S Smart says:

    Glad he cleared that up – before people believe otherwise…

  21. Anonymous says:

    Bruce Blake is a member of FIFA’s legal committee and he failed too see what was going on in Cayman. What could possibly be his role in FIFA’s committee? By the way, Peter Campbell is a member of FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee, Can anyone say what has been Mr. Campbell’s role in the development of football in the Cayman Islands? I do not recall seem him involved in anything other than suddenly becoming a VP.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Your insulting us Blake.

  23. Anonymous says:

    So $250,000 went from CIFA to company Black Holdings to Jeff Webb.

    Let me set out a possible explanation.

    1) Black Holdings is invited to tender for the work at the Center of Excellence by Webb and Watson.
    2) Black Holdings is permitted to pad out the tender by $250,000, approved by Web and Watson.
    3) The artificially inflated tender is submitted to FIFA for approval and is approved based on the recommendation of Webb and Watson.
    4) Black Holdings undertakes the work and invoices for the true cost to them plus the padded amount of $250,000.
    5) CIFA receives funds from FIFA for the inflated costs, pays Black Holdings’ invoices and records all payments as the cost of development of the facility.
    6) Black Holdings retains what it is owed for work plus profit and remits the balance of $250,000 to Webb.

    At the end of the day FIFA have been defrauded of $250,000 and Webb is the beneficiary.

    I have no evidence to support any of the above, but is it hard to believe? What is hard to believe is that the owner of Black Holdings is still on the CIFA committee. He should stand down or be removed immediately

    • Anonymous says:

      Bottom line is there were 4 owners of CIFA. They are now pointing fingers at each other, I hope we can recycle the same jury that dealt with Watson to deal with the others. They are hell bent on holding onto CIFA it was their own big cash cow. It’s sad to know our elected politicians were throwing money into this for years and never asked a question. Didn’t they wonder where these guys got all this money from? Who was with webb in Switzerland when he was picked up?

    • Anonymous says:

      And investigated under the corruption and anti-money laundering laws

    • Chris Johnson says:

      Would you kindly let me have your evidence.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Since he says he has no idea what was happening to the accounts to which he had access, I would suggest he is not in the best position to sort things out. If he loves local football as much as he suggests then he would step away and let others sort out this mess.

  25. Anonymous says:

    A few points:

    “said he had no idea why his millionaire friends may have been taking money from local football”. Well, that is how they become millionaires, stealing from anyone they could.

    “The thing that burns me is that I’m using my personal savings to subsidise local football” I am guessing he is also a millionaire, it will take millions to address the wrongs of the last 20 years, which he has been an EXCO of CIFA the majority of the time.

    “Now CIFA is more strapped for cash than ever, Blake said”. He was not very worry a few months back when he told the minister that CIFA did not need money from Government.

    “We are now speaking with the relevant authorities about the money that was coming in and out and we will have to go back several years to look at the funds coming and going from our accounts” Start in house with Black Holdings, owned by a current VP of CIFA.

    “He also revealed that Watson kept a lot of the financial documents relating to CIFA at his home or his office and no one else saw them”. BB knew this and never raised a flag, this highly questionable and incompetent.

    “I’m now putting my money into CIFA to keep the operation going and keep the leagues running,” Why would anyone put their own money on what is basically a community league. I am sure no one expects BB to be responsible for the mess CIFA is in if he has done nothing wrong. The honorable thing to do is to step aside and allow free access to the CIFA accounts.

  26. Anonymous says:

    “why take money from CIFA if it doesn’t have money to take” says Mr. Blake. He seems to imply that it would have been fine if they had been as rich as all of the bribe-paying companies involved. Perhaps a better mantra would be don’t steal money at all !

  27. Eyes Wide Shut says:

    How could the Auditors and Ministry of Sports fail to question the activitivites of the CIFA Executive Committee or scrutinize the accounts of a not for profit organization like CIFA who are reliant on CI government funds for all those years?

    The allegations of corruption have been rampant for over ten years yet no questions were asked and nothing was ever done by anyone including multiple Minister of Sports M. Bush, A. McLaughlin, M.Scotland, O. Bodden, Chief Officers, Director of Sports who needed to sign off on government funding.

    Somebody somewhere in the system approved payments to CIFA and dropped the ball. Why were so many is pretending that there was nothing suspicious about the gang of buddies including B. Blake that ran CIFA as their own cartel? Funny that nobody in charge raised concerns until Webb’s arrest in May 2015.

    • Anonymous says:

      3:42. The very footballers commented on the thievery that was going on within. They played ball but some of them wasn’t that naive, not to notice what was going happening.

  28. Sharkey says:

    Blake where have you been all these years, you must have been in a good position to now be acting president.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Birds of a feather…

  30. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if Mr. Blake enjoys his house just outside of Atlanta, Georgia as much as his BFF Jeff Webb? It may not be Loganville but how much of a coincidence is that that Webb, Watson and Blake would buy houses so nearby to each other in Georgia?

  31. C'Mon Maaaaaan says:

    Bruce Blake is one of the three amigos who ran CIFA into the ground. If his hands were clean he would still be employed with Maples. Or does he expect us to believe he left his position and lucrative job in order to work for free and save CIFA?

    Everyone connected to football knows he is still the third musketeer in their little gang who travelled the world together “broke bread together” lived the 5 star champagne lifestyle XXXXXX.

  32. SSM345 says:

    Bruce, you are full of it, if you think anyone believes you then you are preaching to the wrong choir. Birds of a feather flock together.

  33. Anonymous says:

    What kind of audits were those? Come on Blake – don’t you have a CPA and law degree? Maybe it’s time for you to step down!

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree! WHY don’t bruce blake just step down!? What is he honestly holding on to? He what you call an educated fool! LOL

  34. Anonymous says:

    Bruce, either way you lose. If you knew and were complicit shame on you. If you didn’t know or suspect where you ought reasonably to have known or suspected you are a CPA and an attorney it is not sufficient to simply say you weren’t aware. You hold two professional qualifications which inherently require you to be inquisitive, suspicious and require evidence as well as act bona fide and in best interests. You are either denying involvement OR you are not a proficient accountant or lawyer.

  35. Anonymous says:

    With that level of incompetence and ignorance, the man deserves to be promoted to a post much higher that President of CIFA.

  36. Simplicity says:

    Blake, you have failed to display leadership at more than one opportunity. All we keep hearing is your heart is broken and you get all emotional about what you are hearing. Why haven’t you suspended the activities of CIFA and get an arms length audit done by a major accounting firm? From since when the minister suggested that to now, what have you done? Are you afraid of something? No more words Bruce. Action!!! Else the country will have to find a way to clean house. Stop the damage to the country man and get to work!!!

  37. Anonymous says:

    I believe every word Bruce Blake is saying.

  38. 345 says:

    I am sure Webb and Watson were very good at what they did. But after all these years, should the “Auditors” not also be held accountable for doing a crappy job?

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