Blake denies ‘suspicious’ corruption allegations

| 03/07/2017
Cayman News Service

Bruce Blake

(CNS): Bruce Blake has confirmed that he was the first of two local men arrested by anti-corruption investigators last week in relation to allegations of secret commissions and money laundering in relation to the Cayman Islands Football Association, but he has categorically denied the “suspicious” accusations. Through his lawyer, the vice president of CIFA said the police inquiry relates to two US$600,000 payments to the association’s Butterfield Bank account that were transferred to its loan account at Fidelity.

The statement issued by local attorney, Steve McField, said these were represented to Blake as loans to CIFA to pay down the existing loan to remove the charge on the Centre of Excellence in compliance with FIFA regulations.

Blake was arrested by investigators from the Anti-Corruption Commission in the CIFA related probe on Thursday.

CNS can now also confirm that the following day, Friday 30 June, Canover Watson (46) was also arrested in relation to the same CIFA probe. Watson, who is serving seven years in jail on various fraud convictions in the hospital CarePay contract scandal, was also arrested for secret commissions and money laundering.

There has been no indication whether the ACC is also investigating Jeffrey Webb in connection with this inquiry. Webb, who remains under increasingly relaxed house arrest in Georgia, was due to be sentence for his conviction in the FIFA scandal this month but his sentencing hearing has been postponed for the fifth time until January next year. He still stands charged in the CarePay case and it is not known if the director of public prosecutions will pursue a move to extradite him once he has been sentenced in the US.

The CarePay trial revealed questions about Webb’s use of the local CIFA accounts but it was never clear who else in CIFA knew what he was doing.

At the time Blake was, and still is, the VP of CIFA, while Watson was its treasurer.

In a press statement Monday, Blake’s attorney, Steve McField, said his client had been released on bail and had not been charged with any crimes. He said he had not “engaged in arranging nor receiving any secret commission” or in money laundering.

“Mr Blake has not at anytime received or arranges [sic] any corrupt payment for or to CIFA nor any other entity or person(s). Mr Blake has not at anytime engaged in any secret payment(s) or improper business or unprofessional practices or advantages for himself or any other person(s) or entity,” McField stated on Blake’s behalf.

He said the football executive was “innocent of these suspicious allegations”, as he pointed to the presumption of innocence. He said Blake had nothing to hide and had “fully cooperated with the investigators”, handing over all the
relevant information in his possession, including his computer, telephone, books and records.

McField also stated that his client “had previously filed a report with the Anti-Corruption commission in relation to this matter”, though he did not specify when that happened or why.

“Blake is obviously shocked and dismayed by these suspicious allegations,” McField said, adding that his client had already cooperated with the US authorities, CONCACAF and FIFA in their investigations. He said Blake would not “comment further on anything that could jeopardize an active and ongoing investigation except to say that he is anxiously awaiting
the outcome of this investigation to clear his name”.

However, McField said that Blake would continue to cooperate with the ACC investigators.

Press release on behalf of Bruce Blake, 3 July 2017

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Category: Crime

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