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Canover Watson (left) and Bruce Blake

(CNS): Canover Watson has been found guilty of all charges against him in the football fraud case, while his colleague and friend, Bruce Blake, has been found guilty of two of the four charges against him for his part in the scam against CONCACAF. After a twelve-week trial, the jury returned their unanimous verdict on Friday afternoon after more than nine hours of deliberation over two days. Watson, who has a previous conviction for a similar fraud on the Health Services Authority, is facing a lengthy jail term but both he and Blake were bailed until sentencing in the New Year.

Chief Justice Margaret Ramsay-Hale dismissed the jury and thanked them for what she said was their extraordinary service over the nearly three months the trial lasted. She then heard submissions from the crown and the defence attorneys regarding pre-sentencing reports and a potential confiscation hearing. The men were bailed, but only Watson was given a reporting condition until the sentencing hearing on 19 January.

The jury found Watson guilty of secret commissions in relation to three false invoices for US$1,540,900 paid to Watson by CONCACAF for football kit that was never supplied. The remaining money laundering and false accounting charges related to the actions Watson took to hide and move the money around, including creating loans that were changed to sponsorship deals through the Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA).

Blake was also charged with money laundering, but the jury found him not guilty of those counts. However, he was convicted of false accounting in relation to the CIFA audit.

Both men had denied all the charges. Watson claimed the invoices, which were signed off by CONCACAF officials, were legitimate business deals and that the loans were to help CIFA and ensure there were no barriers to Jeff Webb, his former business partner and long-term friend, becoming FIFA president. Blake claimed he was helping out his friend and trusted Watson when he asked him to do things.

For more details about the case see previous articles on CNS:

Attorneys battle over truth in Watson-Blake case
Blake denies laundering Watson’s ‘stolen’ cash
‘I’m innocent’ claims Watson after week on stand
Crown: Watson stole $1.54M in football invoice fraud

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