Watson guilty on five counts

| 04/02/2016 | 138 Comments
Cayman News Service

Canover Watson exits the courthouse after being found guilty of corruption

(CNS): The former chair of the Health Services Authority, Canover Watson (45), has been found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to defraud, one count of conflict of interest, one count of fraud on government and one count of breach of trust in relation to the nine week corruption trial over the lucrative CarePay hospital payment and verification system. But he was found not guilty of money laundering before he was led out from the Grand Court and remanded in custody.

After deliberating for just over a day, the six women and one man on the jury revealed four unanimous guilty verdicts at 2:30 Thursday afternoon but returned to their deliberations following directions from the judge that they could reach a majority verdict if they were not unanimous on the remaining two counts. Watson placed his head in his hands as the first four verdicts were read out and then had a nerve-racking wait before the jury returned with their verdicts on the remaining counts.

After another hour and twenty minutes inside the privacy of the jury room, they returned at 3:50pm to deliver another guilty verdict for the breach of trust and an acquittal on the still serious charge, count five, the transfer of criminal property (money laundering).

The judge remanded Watson in custody in the wake of the verdicts and scheduled a sentencing hearing for 10:30 on Friday morning. Following the adjournment, the George Town man, a one time community leader and 2007 winner of the Young Caymanian Leadership Award, was handcuffed and taken by police to HMP Northward.

During the nine week corruption trial, the jury listened to live evidences from Watson, who gave evidence in his own defence, and more than a dozen witnesses and examined reams of incriminating documentary evidence, including email correspondence, bank account details, spreadsheets and contracts.

The crown’s case against Watson was that while he was chair of the HSA board, he created a company, AIS Cayman Ltd, of which he and his close friend and business partner, Jeffrey Webb, were the beneficial owners. AIS went on to win a contract, worth more than $11 million, with the HSA for a payment and verification system for patients insured with the government insurance company, CINICO.

Prosecutors claimed he had manipulated the procurement process and bumped up the transaction fees and the cost of implementing the system, which was being supplied by a partner company in the contract, AIS in Jamaica, owned by Doug Halsall.

Watson was also accused of doctoring the original contract to make it look as though the Cayman government was obligated to undertake a national roll-out of the payment system to the private health insurers and health care providers, and thereby conned the public purse out of more than $1.2 million.

His former personal assistant, Miriam Rodrigues, who stood trial with him, was acquitted last month for lack of evidence.

Jeffrey Webb, Watson’s absent co-defendant, has also been charged with corruption in this case but he has not yet been tried. Following his conviction in the massive FIFA corruption probe in the US, the former local football hero remains under house arrest at his home in Atlanta, Georgia, which, according to evidence in this trial, appears to have been paid with the ill-gotten gains from the hospital CarePay contract.

As the judge thanked the jury for their hard work, he said it had been a long and complicated case in which the anti-corruption team and crown prosecutors had also worked very hard.

In the wake of the verdicts, the Anti-Corruption Commission said the investigation was “a protracted and complicated one, during which the officers worked methodically and tirelessly, interviewing witnesses, analysing, assessing and recording data in order to progress the investigation to the point where Watson, and others, could be charged and prosecuted.”

The ACC stated, “The concerns which resulted in the investigation of Mr Watson, and others, were brought to the Commission’s attention by individuals who took an active stand against corruption in the Cayman Islands. The Commission has continually reiterated the importance of the role of public officials and the positions of trust assigned to those roles. The Commission will continue to do its part to hold accountable those public officials who do not perform their duties honestly or with integrity and subsequently break the Law.”

Thanking those who helped and assisted the investigators, the ACC also recognised the hard work and efforts of Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran and his team, which included local crown counsel, Toyin Saliko, and visiting counsel from the UK, Neil Ross.

Canover Watson was represented by Ben Tonner from Samson & McGrath, led by visiting QC, Trevor Burke.

Check back to CNS tomorrow for full coverage from the sentencing hearing.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (138)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Shoulda just plead guilty n got like 3 years lol

  2. Anonymous says:

    Cayman’s YCLA Awards are fast becoming our equivalent to the Queen’s Honour’s in the UK.


    • Anonymous says:

      @7:10 must be Whodatis……. who else would refuse to call out the Jamaicans for their wrong and simply turn it into a British issue. Let me guess, he’s one of your buddies who have no respect for Cayman and Caymanians but motivated by befriending the British?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yes, what happen to the former Minister hmmm

    As the saying goes: long run, short catch!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Take that!

  5. Sharkey says:

    @ Corruption Owl , and Anonymous 7:32,am, I think I know who those 6 thumbs down are, i’l tell you in the coming case.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Where is Mark Scotland? Cayman’s equivalent to Where’s Waldo.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Look..his Con Over but he is just the Canopener for the whole tin of whorms. Bigger names to come out.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The YCLA should now make a public announcement stripping him of his award, which in my opinion should have been done a long time ago.

  9. Sharkey says:

    CNS , can you please save all of these good comments and send them to Watson via MSP nortward so he can read them and see what people really think of him, there’s enough to keep him reading for many years. Maybe it would be good therapy for him .

  10. Anonymous says:

    One can only assume the jury did not understand what money laundering involved and gave up trying to understand given the other convictions.

  11. Anonymous says:

    “The greatest want of the world is the want of men-men who will NOT be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.”—–Ellen White.

  12. Sharkey says:

    I think that the Cayman Government needs to bring in the US FBI and the IRS to bring this case to a close any give the Islands some closure, because I think that there’s a lot more stones to turn over.

    • Anonymous says:

      Clearly there was money laundering activity!
      The laundering charges may have been over-looked in the Cayman Islands Courts; but, I’ll bet, the USDOJ & FBI are taking notes.

      • someone who sat in on the case says:

        Money Laundering charge was against Webb and Watson, but there was only proof on this for Webb, there was no hard evidence of this for Watson. Remember, the funds coming from Government were not illegal. Webb moved the funds out, but no proof of Watson moving the funds out. He received funds into his account, but the funds were legal.

        • Anonymous says:

          Actually this was illegal gotten $$ so …. come again? Proceeds of criminal conduct = money laundering.

    • Island Bundy says:

      Because inviting in overseas police forces has benefited the island in the past?

  13. Anonymous says:

    I am glad that there finally seem to be consequences for those who believe they are above the law and where greed has eradicated any sense of shame and pride.

    However, this also means that our entire society is so easily blinded and manipulated by the thought that someone is “higher up”, rich, or well connected (worse if it is a fellow Caymanian), that every common sense is thrown out of the window!! There should have been many people along the way who should have wondered how he can suddenly afford all those luxuries etc. But it seems in Cayman, people are more eager to rub elbows with someone who “has made it” in the hope that something will trickle down in their direction that they also have lost any common sense instead of taking a step back and wondering whether something doesn’t quite add up. Typically “head in the sand” mentality.

    If people want their country back in order, they should stop rallying around those who have no shame to tear it down.

    • Wilma Dias says:

      1) JOB
      2) Education
      3) inheritance
      You can also buy luxury items. Anyone can!! It’s just what you chose to spend it on! DUH

  14. Sharkey says:

    Watson was not very smart on his phoney spread sheet in figuring out how to beat and steal from the Government and people out the money .
    I am very happy the Jury and Judge and the Legal system showed everyone that being involved in crime and corruption a lesson , because this kind of behavior just puts a black mark on the whole Country, I hope that the Judge don’t back down on the sentence .

  15. Anonymous says:

    “As a recipient of the YCLA, Mr. Watson pledged to do everything possible to help create opportunities for Cayman’s youth and to make a difference in young people’s lives.”

    This was reported in 2007….was the difference he intended to steal from our young footballers? That certainly made a difference to their lives…… (sorry to CNS for the Compass link)


  16. Anonymous says:

    Arrogant & foolish man. Thinking the whole time he was above the LAW of the land. There is so much more to this thief than the public knows. Just as Webb stole from the Haitian relief fund Canover stole from his employees families and took some of their future security from them. He is a thief for life now. Live with it Canover, die with it too. Your a thief. Now on to your band of thieves for them to be exposed and run off. Your all thieves and racists too.

  17. Naz Conformity says:

    Me and the jury have one thing in common we want to Know Wey deh Former Health minister deh and Wha he hah fe sey bout dis???

  18. Corruptions Owl says:

    Yes there are others who were heavily involved with both him and Jeff but because they attended the undercover Tea Party held by the previous governor at his house in his undercover car to help remove a government they deem unfriendly to their agenda. Immunity was handed out and investigations were slanted to target specific persons who oppose their UK Agenda. Conflict of Interest was a Great charge which i support wholeheartedly 100% i just wish some of those who are complainants in this investigation would be charged for the numerous blatantly obvious conflicts they have in place now in this government which they and their associates, family members are clearly deriving political and economic benefit from. I won’t hold my breath though because it is clearly obvious those who determine who and what get investigated in this Overseas Territory are deliberately and clearly after those who oppose them and their agenda.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Some great Canover quotes from 2007: ‘Choose to be your best in whatever you do and the world has no choice but to see you as the best’. At until you are convicted as a dishonest thief, then the world has no choice but to see you for what you are. ‘But what I did have was a belief in myself that I could do anything I wanted to do if I put my mind to it…’ which obviously extended to such things as fraud, embezzlement, lying on oath . .

  20. Turtle says:

    You know the sad thing about this, is if he spends time in NW when he gets out he will be put back into the same sort of position. . Mark my words!! Caymanian short term memory

  21. Anonymous says:

    Your a foul one…Mr Grinch

  22. Anonymous says:

    First offense . Probably just get away with crucifixion.
    Nail him up I say.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Now can we please investigate all the CS and statutory heads. Everyone knows there is funny business going on with there. Hint – start with GASBOY for personal use.

  24. Anon a must says:

    Juror deliberated just “over” a day and well… Canover is all Canned and Over. Boom!!!

  25. Sharkey says:

    This man looks different today from the photo on Tuesday or Wednesday, don’t even look like the same guy.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Poor fellow, upon release that sound system up north will way out of date, I guess. Just a thought.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just another great day in the civil service. Oh my so much has improved. Thank you Madam DPP, Deputy DPP, Police and ACC.

      Thanks too to the jury.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why do we allow private sector persons on our government boards. This is the 2nd private sector board member to be found guilty of corruption.

  27. Cayman Displacement program says:

    This is what happens to those who forget how they get where they are in life and believe because they get an invite innah da big circle with those who believe they know this lickle place because they came here to manage illicit and corrupt money which was easily available to them and used to create their little dynasties Which now affords them titles and dominion over those who know the truth about just how they came about. You Mr Watson simply found out that you were merely given an invite but you will never ever be accepted no matter how many of their kind you have in your employ. Besides its time foreign transplants like yourself whom they always use to deny Caymanian people rights and opportunities in their own island find out just hard it is and how it feels to have to fight to survive in this place and stay out of prison.

  28. How often does Canova visits Jamaica says:

    There are more people behind this and whom are deeply involved. The Police should look deeply at all his associates during him being chairman at HSA. Who really made the Jamaican connection? How often does Canova goes to Jamaica? Who found Dough in Jamaica to form this company. Canova, time to start talking. You very well know that you never did this alone. You and Jeff did not do this alone. Where are the others buddy? The time is right, it is better for you to come clean now and expose the rest of them who introduce you to the Jamaican firm. Talk, talk and talk now.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t worry Canover probably won’t talk but lots of people are shaking in their boots USDOJ is taking notes and creating files for arrest warrants and discoveries; Sally Yates cautioned them come to America and get arrested. It has happened to Sir Allan Stanford and it’s about to happen to many more than Canover.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Did this POS not hold a position at immigration at one point. Any questionable decisions? Anyone looking?

    • Anonymous says:

      No, because they know what they might find, and it is disgusting.

      • Anonymous says:

        …busy influencing the Board’s decisions to grant worker permits and permanent residence (especially, to former Admiral Employees), when it was clearly inappropriate and/or legally baseless.

  30. Anonymous says:

    so when do they go after the “sham” directors? I am sure it would not be to hard to get a conspiracy charge

    • Anonymous says:

      Any lawyers involved?

      • Anonymous says:

        …there is always some “shady” lawyer(s) who was advising on this intricate plot to swindle to he public purse, along with other victims.

        It’s interesting to hear the silence — i.e. No names publicly mentioned, yet.

  31. Turtle says:

    I wonder if the Legal Dept is going to have a chat with the RCIPS to have a little chat with the owner of the construction company that transfered all that money overnight? And of course the IT staff member at the hospital?

    If I were them I’d be pooping in my panties right about now..

    Now let’s get the rest of them.

  32. Connor says:

    So sad for his family. He has disgraced them and worst yet, let himself down. My advice to you now mr. Watson, take a plea deal and give up the rest that were involved. Stealing from the government is one thing, but stealing from a program that is there to assist the youths of these islands is a disgraceful act on the children that deserves better.

    • Jotnar says:

      Coz stealing from the government is ok? Every dollar taken is dollar less available for social services, the indigent and public works. How in any universe is that any different from taking money for football development for youngsters?

    • Jotnar says:

      “The concerns which resulted in the investigation of Mr Watson, and others, were brought to the Commission’s attention by individuals who took an active stand against corruption in the Cayman Islands.” And their reward was to lose their jobs, their work permits, and have to leave the islands. Great example.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I guess the first person(s) to visit this piece of shit up in Northward would be those who are now thinking that the prosecution may “strongly be considering” going for a second home run……… to include them.

    Can Can – Bo Bo …….don’t say nothing about me………..you hear wa I say bo bo, don’t say nuttin. I will bring you plenty of soap, toothpaste, deodorant and help you out with some money for your appeal. Hang in there bo no…… and don’t strike no deal with them about helping you out. You hear what I say Can Can listen to me, I can get you that same lawyer from London who helped me out.

    Two …… nites now up in the same cage for corruption. Ha ha ?This cage still has room for more and let’s hope that the DPP will go after the others who are wrapped up in this same crooked scheme.

    Bunch of Fuc$&@” crooked bastards!

    CNS – excellent reporting on this trial, especially for us who could not go to court and listen to this case due to working our ass off……….. trying to make an honest and upright living.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your first sentence is an affront to Caymanian society. Clearly you need to have your mouth washed out, sir/madam.

      • Anonymous says:

        Cayman society and Caymankind does not have much left to affront to be honest. I can understand you getting a bit defensive but Google corruption in the Cayman Islands, Jeff Webb or check the court lists and you will see that it is all out there to be seen.
        This pos is not the first, definitely not the last and will pale into insignificance when that son of the soil, golden boy Webb is back on the world criminal stage soon.
        The funny thing is, no foreign influence or help is needed. Cayman society has managed to do this all by themselves which, for such a tiny population on this little 2 by 4′ Rock, with pure hearts and clean hands is actually quite impressive.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Great day for justice in the Cayman Islands…..move quickly to CIFA.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Now to wait and see whether the YCLA revokes Canover’s 2007 award. It will take a lot of courage but it is the only honourable option for them.

  36. Anonymous says:

    How could he be found not guilty on the charge of money laundering?
    The jury obviously had no idea what money laundering is.
    Sad to say the least.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am sure the jury knew exactly what money laundering is. Did you ever think that there was no direct evidence of money laundering that linked back directly to Watson?!

    • Anonymous says:

      Best to ask the judge, I would assume.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Presumably a civil suit to recoup all the money divert away to AIS is afoot and is now a formality?

  38. Anonymous says:

    In the end, it was all about GREED!!! Not even a fool would have believed his BS lies!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, that sure says a lot about the Cayman Islands Government who hand-delivered cheques to his house; now doesn’t it!?

      • Anonymous says:

        Find out who in CIG delivered or authorized the delivery of checks to his house and you get closer to the top dogs in the chain.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sadly the YCLA selectors believed him !

  39. Anonymous says:

    Very sad day for these islands

    • Anonymous says:

      It would have been much sadder if this greedy man has been acquitted.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sad, not Caymanians. We remember when he came here as a child. Ashamed, because some of our people are fool enough to put the same government back in charge again. The same government that empowers people like him.

      • Anonymous says:

        And the opposite of that is, if the same party that you’re talking about was in power the UK women that stole over $300,000 from Cayman’s senior citizens would be serving time at HMP Northward…… Seems as if one party protects one sector of people while the other defend theirs.

        • Anonymous says:

          If you don’t know the full story you shouldn’t comment, maybe ask the board about all the secret negotiations long before it ever got reported

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes he came here as a child but I bet cha didn’t know his paternal grandparents migrated to Jamaica from East End in the 1930’s.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sad! We should be sad when we go to the health services for assistance, medication,etc and they are not available because CW and his cronies are illegally creaming off the top.

  40. Cocomojoe says:

    I think Canover was just the bag man. The Captain of he ship needs to be brought to justice

  41. Anonymous says:

    U can’t help a man who can’t himself!! Oh well another bites the dust! Bracka

  42. I Love Soca says:

    De party Can Over after all.

  43. Anonymous says:

    good day for cayman justice…..was expecting another mckeeva type jury verdict….

  44. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know what sentence Judge Mettyear is going to hand down, but I bet the FIFA Ethics Committee will ban him from football for at least six months.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Well they got one. About 149 to go. But they’ll be safe from investigation as long as they don’t step on the wrong toes.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Great. What a nasty arrogant dishonest man and the evidence clearly showed it such that even a Cayman jury had to convict him. I suppose like any coward he will appeal and try to escape his crimes. If he had any care for the people of the nation, which I doubt, rather than stand by his lies he should sit down with authorities and explanation what everyone’s role really was. He won’t. He has no class, after all he is a common thief.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes and the one other witness the defense had seems to have a speech impediment, coupled with the fact that he was apparently lying for his “boss” didnt lend any credibility to the case. Pitiful stragedy!

      • Anonymous says:

        ‘Pitiful?’ The defense teams work (very hard) with whatever facts / information they are given to ensure a fair trial takes place in order for justice to prevail. I’d like to see you trawl through the reams of paper trails and witness statements to come up with a better ‘strategy’. Or perhaps you should just learn to spell the word itself first?!

        • Anonymous says:

          Because he was guilty and it was the only strategy possible… paperwork only further proved his guilt and you bet justice prevailed in the end. His crony with a speech problem that went on the stand and lied should be charged for purgery. He surely has enough time on his hands now to doodle and fantasize…. No more shopping at Dadeland…. Pitiful you!

          • Anonymous says:

            The witness, his crony, his foreman and whatever else, is this the same person I understand is residing at CW house in Patrick’s Island? Interesting……

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually he is not a common theif. He is a convicted white collar criminal.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Just has been served … almost – they should have found him guilty on all 6. As a fellow Caymanian I am truly ashamed of what he has done and it was obvious from Day 1. The evidence was overwhelming and he wasted the court’s time and someone’s money on legal fees. All very sad. XXXXXXXX Anyway, who’s next? This is NOT the end of the matter. Some higher ups had their hands dirty in this as well.

  48. Anonymous says:

    The key players should have been called to the stand (The Big Boys) but no because he is black they convicted wrongly. Justice will prevail in the end.

    • Anonymous says:

      Justice will prevail when all get convicted! Too many only see cayman as place for financial gain regardless of what they have to do

    • Anonymous says:

      Because he is black? Grow up. It’s because he is a criminal. Spare the race card. It’s 2016.

    • Anonymous says:

      Like you I suspect that he is not the only one that has done wrong here. Unlike you however I do not believe that that means he was wrongly convicted.

    • Anonymous says:

      Justice has prevailed. Let every dishonest person be found GUILTY. That’s what the YCLA has been disgraced by, imagine that. Rob not the poor, because he is poor, neither rob the taxpayers who help fund the government. An good example of an upstanding paper Caymanian.

    • Anonymous says:

      You must be his brother in crime

    • Black or White Justice is Justice says:

      I think your foolish comment reveals you to be a twit.

  49. Nectar of the gods says:

    What a POS hopefully Cayman can move on and learn from this.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Who owns the bakery?

    • Anonymous says:

      Jeff and Canover owns Captains Bakery

    • Anonymous says:

      Its not a bakery, its a laundry in disguise and always has been.

    • Anonymous says:

      What I don’t understand is why the two local “fronting” directors of AIS were not required to give evidence. Also if his colleague in crime Mr Webb ever returns to Caman to face prosecution then I think Watson will not escape conviction on his last charge.

      • Anonymous says:

        We protect fronters here. Did you not know that?

        • Anonymous says:

          Which is why the whole concept of a beneficial owners registry is such a joke. When it comes to disclosing who really owns and benefits from Cayman businesses we do not do honesty here, and no-one actually ever requires it, no matter what our laws say.

    • Anonymous says:

      His ex-wife got the bakery in the divorce.

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