Watson’s sports company partner denies taking cash

| 22/08/2022
Cayman News Service
Shakeel Khawaja

(CNS): A football equipment salesman involved in a complex business partnership with Canover Watson between 2013 and 2015 denied wrongfully taking money from the sale of sports equipment or being involved in any of the fraud that Watson is accused of perpetrating on the regional football body, CONCACAF. Shakeel Khawaja, a representative for Forward Sports, a Pakistani-based manufacturer, gave evidence for almost a week via Zoom from Germany about his dealings with Watson, who he believed was just a CONCACAF executive and not his business partner.

Watson helped create regional companies for the sales agent and assisted Forward Sports in securing deals to supply football equipment, from balls to socks, for youth leagues across the Caribbean for well over a year. However, Khawaja claimed he didn’t realise that Watson was the other half-owner of the companies he became involved with.

Khawaja testified that Forward Sports had supplied equipment to the value of $625,000 but maintained that he did not draw up the additional invoices, totalling over $1.5 million, that the crown says are part of a fraud against CONCACAF. He said he never received any of that money and knew nothing about the three invoices.

Throughout his evidence, which was delivered largely through an interpreter, Khawaja appeared confused. As he answered questions by prosecutors and attorneys representing both Watson and Bruce Blake, who is charged with helping Watson launder the cash he is accused of stealing from CONCACAF, Khawaja was unsure of the details of the companies he was involved with.

Despite the existence of several emails in which he appeared to understand and agree with arrangements being organised by Watson, he claimed that he was not aware that Watson was actually his business partner in any of them.

The crown contends that Watson set up companies with similar names to the Pakistani manufacturing companies to enable him to issue false invoices for football equipment that was paid for but never supplied.

But throughout the week Khawaja maintained that he did not negotiate these deals, and although he wished he had been able to make deals for that amount of kit, the orders were never made by or negotiated through him. He told the court that the goods had never been produced or supplied by Forward Sports in Pakistan, where he was employed. 

Khawaja testified that the businesses Watson had helped him create as a vehicle for securing deals were never very successful and expenses had exceeded turnover. He also believed Watson was helping him to get business in his official capacity as an executive with the various football associations (CIFA, CFU and CONCACAF) that Khawaja said he wanted to sell equipment to.

When Watson’s defence attorney Dapinder Singh QC suggested to Khawaja that he had taken payments sent by Watson for sports equipment and this was the real reason why the equipment was never delivered, he denied taking anything other than his commission and money to cover his out-of-pocket costs, which the manufacturers in Pakistan were well aware of. 

The crown’s case against Watson and Blake is based very heavily on a significant amount of documents and correspondence, which requires attorneys to take witnesses through each one to make or refute the charges. The crown claims Watson stole $1.5 million from CONCACAF through false invoices and then, with the help of Bruce Blake, proceeded through the creation of a complex series of companies and accounts to move money, hiding the source of that stolen cash.

The trial, which is expected to take around ten weeks to complete, continues.

Share your vote!

How do you feel after reading this?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Courts, Crime

Comments are closed.