(CNS): As Canover Watson began serving a seven-year sentence for corruption Friday, another public scandal he is involved in can now be revealed following the lifting of reporting restrictions on a civil lawsuit filed in the US. In the civil action by CONCACAF against travel firm, Cartan Tours, Watson is accused of being involved in a corrupt deal, along with Jeffrey Webb and Enrique Sanz, the former CONCACAF president and secretary general, in relation to a hospitality contract.
Speaking in mitigation during Watson’s sentencing ruling on Friday, defence attorney Trevor Burke QC said his client was a good man who had done one bad thing. However, the legal action filed in the district of California alleges that, at the same time he was taking millions of dollars from the Cayman Islands public purse in the CarePay swindle, Watson was also embroiled in elements of the regional football corruption scandal, in which his close friend, Jeffrey Webb, has been convicted of racketeering.
The suit alleges (page 12) that Watson, Webb and Bruce Blake, the current president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, met Daniel Gamba, one of Carton’s employees, at the London Olympics. CONCACAF alleges in the suit that a secret meeting at the May Fair Hotel in London in August 2012 between Webb, Watson and Gamba led to a corruption relationship whereby Cartan eventually secured a contract for all of CONCACAF’s travel arrangements and hospitality services for major events, through which an enormous amounts of money was creamed off in kickbacks and inflated invoices.
In a similar pattern to that revealed in the CarePay case, the suit alleges that Watson was involved in the creation of a fraudulent contract to present to the other CONCACAF executives in September 2014 to ensure the graft was not discovered. In the suit Watson and Webb are described as “experts at creating schemes for kickbacks and commercial bribes in exchange for lucrative contracts”.
The document also reveals (on page 23) that in 2013 Carton made a “mysterious loan” of $600,000 to the Cayman Islands Football Association at the request of Webb, then CIFA president, and Watson, then CIFA treasurer. The loan document was signed by Bruce Blake on behalf of CIFA. On the same day, CIFA received another $600,000 “loan” from Forward Sports.
The suit further alleges that Carton employee Marjorie Burrell was installed in CONCACAF’s Cayman Islands office in order to bypass CONCACAF staff on all travel bookings made for the organisation. “She was also used as a direct line by Webb to book private trips and clandestine rendezvous for him and his numerous extramarital girlfriends,” the suit says.
CNS has reached out to Blake who has agreed to talk about the issues alleged. Check back to CNS tomorrow for more details. Questions have also been submitted to Watson’s legal team but so far there has been no response.