FIFA member’s arrest prompts questioning

Canover Watson was detained in his native Cayman Islands on Aug. 28 by police anti-corruption and financial crime units

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FIFA’s financial monitoring panel has asked one of its members to explain his arrest in a corruption case.

Canover Watson was detained in his native Cayman Islands on Aug. 28 by police anti-corruption and financial crime units.

Local media reported that Watson was quizzed about alleged money laundering and abuse of public office. The case reportedly involves a 2010 contract to supply public hospitals with swipe-card billing technology.

FIFA audit and compliance committee chairman Domenico Scala said Watson has been contacted about the case.

“We have asked Canover Watson whether he can share with the audit committee any additional information,” Scala said on Saturday in an email reply to the Associated Press.

Scala wrote that the request is “in agreement with the (FIFA) ethics committee.”

Watson is an associate of FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb, a banker from the Cayman Islands and president of the CONCACAF regional body since 2012.

Watson serves the North and Central American and Caribbean region on Scala’s eight-member watchdog scrutinizing FIFA’s financial integrity. Soccer’s governing body gets more than $1 billion revenue annually and has nearly $1.5 billion in reserves.

The panel was formed in 2012 under Scala’s leadership as a key part of anti-corruption reforms. They were ordered after bribery and vote-buying scandals implicating senior FIFA officials, including disgraced former CONCACAF leader Jack Warner, who resigned in 2011 to avoid investigation by FIFA.

CONCACAF said in a statement on Saturday it was “awaiting the complete review of the ongoing proceedings” involving Watson.

“At CONCACAF, we take great pride of the highest standards of integrity, governance and transparency that lead the organization,” the statement said.

Reports said Watson was released on bail on the same day of his arrest. He released a statement through his lawyers the following day, denying any wrongdoing.

Currently managing director of a financial services company, Watson’s biography on the firm’s website states he is also a director of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange.

An email sent to his business email address on Saturday prompted an automatic reply that he is “currently on an indefinite leave of absence.”

The Cayman Islands has had increased standing and respect in world soccer since Webb was elected to the FIFA hierarchy. He remains president of the islands’ football association, and Watson is treasurer.

There is no suggestion Webb is linked to the police probe.

Watson is also among four vice presidents of the Caribbean Football Union.

His colleagues on the CFU executive include FIFA appeals committee chairman Larry Mussenden of Bermuda, and Sonia Bien-Aime, a co-opted member of FIFA’s ruling board from the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The FIFA audit and compliance group is next scheduled to meet Dec. 16 in Morocco on the sidelines of the Club World Cup.

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