Blake denies laundering Watson’s ‘stolen’ cash

| 12/10/2022
Cayman News Service
Bruce Blake (courtesy Jamaican Gleaner)

(CNS): Bruce Blake, a former football executive with both CIFA and CONCACAF, has denied money laundering and false accounting in relation to a scheme where, prosecutors say, he helped his colleague Canover Watson hide more than $1.5 million, the proceeds of scam invoices for football kit. Blake claimed the work he did for Canover Watson was legitimate and he was unaware of any potential crimes his long-time friend may have been committing.

Blake is also accused of making false statements to CIFA’s auditors about the origin of two loans or sponsorship deals used to pay down an existing loan the local football association had with Fidelity Bank.

The crown says this is the main motivation for Watson scamming the money from CONCACAF. Paying down the legitimate CIFA loan was essential if Jeff Webb, their friend and at the time a FIFA vice president, was going to become Sepp Blatter’s successor as president of the worldwide football governing body.

The crown said that Blake was part and parcel of the whole crime, which began with Watson conning CONCACAF into paying him over CI$1.5 million and then juggling the cash around to pay off the CIFA loan and release the lien on the association’s Centre of Excellence held by the bank, in contravention of FIFA regulations. Watson also used some of the cash to pay off his own credit card bills and other expenses as well as to pay Blake for fake work.

After four days on the stand, Blake denied any wrongdoing or that he had any detailed knowledge of what Watson was really doing with his football-related businesses. Blake said he had not lied to the bank or helped Watson launder his criminal gains. He claimed the money he was paid by Watson was legitimate fees for consultancy work he did to help Watson set up companies and contracts.

Presented with reams of documents that appeared not to align with his evidence, Blake claimed he had made several errors in the documents because he was using templates and was very busy. He also denied telling lies to his bank about the money Watson was allegedly passing through his accounts.

During their time in the witness box, neither Watson nor Blake were able to say why they used Blake’s company accounts to bank the CONCACAF money rather than any of the bank accounts connected to Watson’s network of offshore companies.

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