Crown: Watson got CI$5.5M in CarePay fraud

| 23/01/2018 | 64 Comments
Cayman News Service

Canover Watson exits the courthouse after being found guilty of corruption

(CNS): Prosecutors are arguing that the former chair of the Health Services Authority, Canover Watson, personally benefited to the tune of more than CI$5.5 million as a result of his part in the fraud perpetrated against the hospital with his long-time friend and business partner, Jeff Webb. Watson was convicted on several charges in February 2016 in relation to the scandal surrounding a payment system at the government’s hospital in George Town, known as CarePay, and the crown is now seeking to seize cash from him with an official application for confiscation under the Proceeds of Crime Law.

Watson was given a seven-year prison term for his part in the corruption scandal after he was convicted on 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. But almost two years later, he is now arguing against the crown’s claim that the crimes he was convicted of resulted in him gaining millions of dollars from public coffers.

At the confiscation hearing Tuesday Watson’s defence lawyer, Amelia Fosuhene, said the benefit to Watson was far less. While his attorney has not given a specific figure that would represent the amount Watson dishonestly gained, she claimed her client was only an employee and not the main protagonist in the fraud.

Whatever was “skimmed from the top”, she argued, was only a fraction of the money paid out. Fosuhene said the court had to consider the legitimate expenses related to the delivery of the service, the wages of the people working for the company, as well as several other people involved who were benefiting from the fraud.

But during two days of arguments the crown claimed that the entire contract with the HSA and AIS Cayman, the company created by Watson as the local partner in the CarePay arrangement, was dishonest and lined Watson’s own pocket by well-over US$6 million. Prosecutors put forward the case that from the get-go, Watson’s fraud covers the entire contract.

Patrick Moran, the deputy director of public prosecutions, said Watson disguised his part in the company that unfairly secured a dishonest and overpriced contract that failed to deliver on the goal of helping the hospital clear insurance claims and ensure patients had valid cover. As a result, Watson, in a 50-50 partnership with Webb, directly benefited from the entire amount, he said.

The judge is expected to make a decision Thursday on how much Watson benefited. But this will only be the first step in the crown’s efforts to seize cash or assets from Watson, who claims to have less than $1 million in realizable assets. Unless the crown can demonstrate that he has hidden property that could be sold, other concealed assets or cash, the continued courtroom fight will be more about how much Watson can pay than how much he should pay.

Under the Proceeds of Crime Law, the courts can make orders to recoup cash stolen in financial crime that can be returned to the victim. In this case, Watson used his position as chair of the HSA board to manipulate the tender process for the $11 million contract at the hospital so that it would go to a company that he and several of his business associates owned, making it difficult to establish exactly how much cash was taken dishonestly and by whom.

Meanwhile, Jeff Webb, one of Watson’s partners in crime in the case and according to Watson the actual owner of AIS Cayman Ltd, has still not been tried for his part in the CarePay fraud. Webb was already under house arrest in the United States over the FIFA scandal when he was charged locally in the CarePay case.

It was recently revealed that Webb, a former president of both the Cayman Islands Football Association and the regional body CONCACAF, as well as a former VP of FIFA, is still awaiting his sentencing hearing in that case, as it has been postponed for sixth time since he pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy charges.

Webb was arrested in Switzerland in May 2015 along with several other FIFA officials in the global football scandal. He admitted being involved in bribery and corruption relating to the marketing rights for football games in November 2015 and since then he has forfeited much of his wealth to the US authorities in a bid to stay out of jail.

If Webb is sentenced in March, as is now expected, and he avoids serving any time as a result of being under house arrest for nearly three years, it is not clear whether or not he will be immediately deported back to Cayman by the US authorities as he is married to an American citizen.

But since Webb remains a wanted man by Cayman Islands authorities, it is likely that the director of public prosecutions will seek his extradition to answer the charges.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (64)

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  1. annonymous says:

    unfortunately there are no ‘checks and balances’ in any government board or department. Everyone is just allowed to go on their merry way doing’ what they want, when they want, if they want’.. seems like no one is answerable to the department heads and the people running the country don’t have the sense, know how to rectify this lack of accountability.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You all are missing the POINT, it doesn’t matter who stole(JAMAICAN/CAYMANIAN), IT WAS OUR $$ HE TOOK!! I SAY LEAVE HIM IN THERE FOR 99YRS LOL! BRACKA.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Well isn’t this interesting?

    Our local boys have elevated themselves to stealing from one of the largest and most influential global organisations and the newcomers are relegated to pinching petty-cash pennies from the local tennis club.

    In a strange, twisted way, this is actually a sign of progress and upward mobility across the world, lol!

    🙂

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  4. Anonymous says:

    He was a Big Deal in the UDP Apparatus at the time, not just a mere solja as someone said earlier. Also, I agree that he could not have pulled this off by himself.

    According to the rules, only the Minister and the relevant Board Members are responsible for a statutory authority like HSA, not civil servants.

    In his defence, he also said that more people than him should be on trial. For justice to be done, he needs to say who those persons are.

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  5. Anon says:

    HSA was an easy target. Canover would have never tried that with a more competent senior management team at the helm.

    Check with any leading private sector firm what their checks and balances are like.

    You don’t just sign off on a multi-million contract for some no-name company from out the blue.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Poor soul, to get away with fraud this Young Caymanian of the Year had to launder the $5.5m he stole, and laundering cash is so expensive these days.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    If you want to see what’s really going on check out the ex politicians that Joke Joke has surrounded himself with. It’s a PNA reunion up in the glass house. Just wait for the bones to come flying out, Alden better open his eyes

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  8. Anonymous says:

    I am very upset that Jeff Web did not get nominated for a sports award on a Heroes day

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  9. SMH says:

    Other persons had to be involved in this elaborate criminal enterprise so where are the other arrests? Unless Canova Watson is a criminal mastermind that duped an entire UDP government plus the entire HSA management and Ministry of Health officials. SMH

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Seems to me that Conover will have served his time and be out of Northward by the time Jeff Web gets sentenced in the US!!

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  11. Anonymous says:

    They stole from children and a health care system (technically they stole from the sick and infirmed too). Twisted, sick, ignorant and arrogant fools. I’m laughing at them now while remembering observing their arrogant attitudes of the past; and all the sheep they collected along their way. As I look out my glass window and easily walk out my unlocked door to my free world without millions of dollars in the bank or under the mattress. Was it all worth it Watson and Webb? YA FLOCK and YOU FOOLS!!

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    • Anonymous says:

      What seems to be forgotten that the Care pay system had to be approved by Cabinet as a major CIG initiative, and with this all then Ministers are equaly responsible for the final outcome. Lock em up

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  12. Anonymous says:

    so why dont he scream on the others he claim were involved??? the crown would listen, i am sure?????

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    • West bay Premier says:

      8:31am , I am not sure that I believe anything that Watson would say. But I believe that he have enough sense to have not had too many people involved in a few millions dollars fraud .

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  13. Anonymous says:

    leave him in jail and I hope Jeffery Webb joins you soon and please throw away the keys!!

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    • West bay Premier says:

      But since Webb is a wanted man in the C.I . I doubt that the Public Prosecutions would be seeking extradition . If they were going to , they wouldn’t have said “Going to seek extradition”, it would have been done and inplace by today . Watson will serve 2 more years and be eligible for parole and the ballance of this crime would be swept under the rug .

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      • Jotnar says:

        RCIPS lodged an extradition request for Webb with the Swiss at the outset and I seem to recall one was submitted to the US as well. Of course won’t be dealt with until he has been sentenced in the US and served his time there but think it’s not tight to say that they have not sought extradition.

  14. Mr. Hirollah says:

    I will wager he never spends more than a month or so in prison after the trial…. if there ever IS a trial! And of course the money will never be recovered.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Going to assume you are talking about Webb,
      they will likely string him up and make an example of him
      especially considering how he embarrassed the jurisdiction being arrested and making international news

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Scum!

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  16. Anonymous says:

    I’m a blue collar worker so 5 million dollars for 7 years is an acceptable rate of pay. I’d do it!

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  17. To the haters says:

    Lets see the spin on making this the fault of expats.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t be such a baby.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You are the only dumbnut that could make that comment.

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    • Anonymous says:

      He is an expat……a born Jamaican.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Leave this poor man alone. He only tried to better himself and all these negative comments. Where is the Christian forgiveness?

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      • Tur Alors! says:

        Well, here’s another dumbnut. Nothing was said about him being an expat when he won his Junior Achievement Award.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Typical Caymanian response. Once a born Jamaican, who is naturalized etc… does something bad, they are Jamaican but when they do great things Cayman takes the credit. You ppl are way too fickle. lmao

      • Anonymous says:

        How then did he win the YCLA award?

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        • Anonymous says:

          Because the definition of “Caymanian” is flawed.

          Do you understand now?

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          • Anonymous says:

            No please enlighten us with the definition. Can’t wait to hear it.

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            • Anonymous says:

              If “A” was here before “B” then “A” is a Caymanian to “B” but “B” is not a Caymanian to “A”.

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            • Anonymous says:

              Just as expected. You can’t even define Caymanian. LOL.

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              • Anonymous says:

                A Caymanian is a person who holds the right to be Caymanian, formerly known as Caymanian status. Mr Watson was (it seems) born a Jamaican. I do not know if he was ever awarded Caymanian status. If he was not, and I do not believe he was, then he is not a Caymanian, and never has been. If he was in fact awarded Caymanian status it can (and probably should) be revoked.

                Whether he is a Caymanian or not, he is an a-hole.

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                • Anonymous says:

                  But is he or isn’t he Caymanian? He received an award for achieving something as a Caymanian.

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      • Anonymous says:

        He was also the winner of the YCLA Award in 2007….pretty selective?

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        • Anonymous says:

          Still trying to figure out how he got that one? I wonder who recommended him? I guess that was all part of the plan to make him look squeeky clesn?

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        • Anonymous says:

          He probably scoffed at the awards, while he was buisy redwarding himself millions of our dollars. Awards ? just a part of his mask while he was robbing us blind.

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    • anonnymous says:

      7:15pm – you must not make comments from post from people you deem as hater rile you up so….

      Truth is…. expats come here and some commit crimes and some of them face the consequences and some don’t.

      Another truth is… some Caymanians commit crimes and some of them face the consequences and some don’t.

      In every other countries some natives are also up in arms about expats, just as some Caymanians are – so this is nothing new.

      Human beings are flawed everywhere, no matter ethnicity or nationality.

      Jeff Webb is Caymanian and many of us Caymanians, openly acknowledge that and the enormity of what he has done. Many of us also hope that he will be punished accordingly, and that is not that we are mean; it is because it would be justice.

      Canova is a new Caymanian whose mother came here and worked her fingers to the bone; and all to give him the best opportunities in life. So there we have it; Jeff a local who did wrong and Canova an expat who became Caymanian also doing wrong.

      Both wrong – both should pay the price.

      I try to treat people according to my nature; and that is to treat them fairly no matter who they are and where they hail from. It makes for a stress free life…I highly recommend it.

      Both Caymanians and Expats contribute to the crime we read about daily in our country. We must be fair and call it like it is.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Great Comment 12:14.

        Its hypocrisy to acknowledge them as Caymanian when they are in the spot light as acheivers and cast them out as expats when they commit crimes. Pick one.

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        • Anonymous says:

          All the Webbs here in Cayman, including Jeff and that other family who have done well in government and whom I do not wish to name, originate from Jamaica. I too come from the same area as them. They are Caymanians today but yesterday they were, like me, Jamaicans.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Mr. Webb the taylor,back in the fifties came to cayman and brought his skill with him. I have nothing but admiration and respect for that gentleman. A fine Jamaican immigrant.He assimilated well here good ole Caymanian.

      • West bay Premier says:

        Anonymous 12:14am , that’s what I said in my other comment . Give them both the same punishment because they are two that should never to be trusted again in two lifetimes . What they did was no MISTAKE .

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        • West bay Premier says:

          What I said in my other comment , CNS didn’t post it because it was very harsh, but that’s what the two of them really need .

    • Anonymous says:

      He was forced into a life of crime. He was a good man but There were X Pats that were richer than he. a born Caymanian and it drove him over the edge. So it is an X Pats fault. 🙂

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      • Johny says:

        You are wicked to say that….because, we’re here driving the most expensive cars and living the high life and don’t want to get an education on order to grow….we the the government should mind us. Look, we are our own worst enemy and that is why expats come with their big degrees and take the highest paying jobs and find innovative solutions to starting businesses….if we were making use of these opportunities and educate ourselves to start businesses, find solutions and own assets then, others would have no space to come in and take or earn more. We force our children through school from so young and many are in high school still can’t even spell “cabbage”….what do you think is happening here….the lack of slowing and aiming to allow our children to grasp the knowledge is what’s holding them back and when they fail and end up at the lower end of the pay scale we blame expats….we need to stop it…right now I have put my child in private school just because of that.

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        • Anonymous says:

          A lot of our children go to school and do nothing but disrupt those who want to pay attention and learn. On the other hand a lot of our children apply themselves, pay attention, have parents who push them and help them to understand the benefit of a good education. They go on to graduate in the top ten percent from the high school, the same high school that the misbehaving one go to, with the same teachers, they go to university and graduate in the top ten percent, come back home and contribute to their communities. Then they are the smart corrupt greedy ones who like to jump the line,poppy show, with the big houses, the flashy cars, expensive jewelry and so on who spend too much time scheming and stealing to get these things. Both of these crooks had mothers who worked tirelessly to provide for them and this is how they repaid them and destroyed their families and their own legacy. Shameful. Honesty is still the best policy. If you are honest, have integrity and work hard you will be ok. You might not become a millionaire, but you will sleep well at nights and won’t have to keep looking over your shoulder.

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  18. Marl Karx says:

    So he was convicted in Feb of 2016 and it is now basically Feb of 2018, why did this process take 2 years?
    Surely once he was convicted the next step would be to seize the assets that he took in relation to the fraud

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    • Mr. Hirollah says:

      Seize the assets? No, Marl…. It doesn’t work that way in the Caymans.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Troll! You can’t be from around these parts. No local or resident refers to the Cayman Islands as “the Caymans”.

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        • Anonymous says:

          I’ve certainly heard it used often enough, including by many of my Caymanian born and bred colleagues. It’s a shorthand – people use it because everybody understands what they mean and that it’s a casual slip of the tongue.

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          • Anonymous says:

            There are Caymanians and then there are ignorant Caymanians. Don’t waste your time arguing with the ones who are never wrong about anything.

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    • Anonymous says:

      They need the 100 plus million court house to be able to work efficiently and achieve results in a timely manner.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Don’t count on bigger courthouse to speed things up. That depends entirely on WHO is being prosecuted.

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