A member of FIFA’s financial watchdog panel has been temporarily suspended after being implicated in the Cayman Islands corruption investigation.
Canover Watson was questioned last month by police anti-corruption and financial crime units in his native Cayman Islands on suspicion of corruption and money-laundering. He denies wrongdoing.
FIFA said audit committee chairman Domenico Scala ‘decided to temporarily relieve until further notice Canover Watson, to whom the presumption of innocence applies, of his duties on the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee’.
The eight-member audit panel is next scheduled to meet on December 16 in Morocco. It scrutinises FIFA’s $1billion-plus annual revenue and commercial contracts.
Local media reported the case involves a 2010 contract to supply public hospitals with swipe-card billing technology.
Scala said that although preliminary investigations had not established any connection between the allegations and Watson’s role in football, Watson had been relieved of his duties while the investigation continues.
In a statement, FIFA said: “After a preliminary clarification of the facts of the case and the allegations of the Cayman Island investigating authorities against Canover Watson, no connection with football and/or his role at association level has been established at this stage.”
“The investigation continues.
“This should not be regarded as routine procedure, because cases like this or of this nature must always be assessed on their individual merits.”
Watson, one of eight members of the committee and a vice-president of the Caribbean Football Union, has denied the charges and been released on bail in the British overseas territory.
The allegations refer to Watson’s time at the head of Cayman’s Health Service Authority and follow a police investigation into the introduction of a swipe card system.
Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Commissioner David Baines, in a statement to local media, said Watson was suspected of ‘breach of trust contrary to section 13 of the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Law, as well as abuse of public office… and conflict of interest’.
Baines also cited ‘suspicion of money-laundering contrary to section 133 of the Proceeds of Crime Law’ in the Watson case.