FIFA suspends member of watchdog after arrest

Fresh blow to FIFA’s credibility as member of its financial watchdog is arrested on suspicion of money-laundering.

FIFA has temporarily suspended a member of its audit and compliance committee after he was arrested on suspicion of corruption and money-laundering.

Domenico Scala, head of FIFA’s financial watchdog, said that although initial investigations had not found any link between the allegations emanating from Canover Watson’s native Cayman Islands and his role in football, he had been stood down while investigations continue.

“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,” said FIFA in a statement.

“The investigation continues. The chairman has 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.

“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 financial committee and a vice-president of the Caribbean Football Union, has denied the charges and been released on bail.

The allegations concern Watson’s time at the head of Cayman’s Health Service Authority and follow a police investigation into a possible conflict of interest to supply public hospitals with swipe-card billing technology

The Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Commissioner David Baines said that 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.

Watson, 43, issued a statement earlier in September insisting he was innocent of all wrongdoing.