By Caribbean News Now contributor
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands -- The former chairman of the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA) board was released on bail Thursday evening following his arrest on suspicion of a number of offences, including abuse of public office, breach of trust, conflict of interest and money laundering in relation to a US$13 million contract awarded to a local company said to be acting as an agent of Saint Lucia-based Health Adjudication Systems.
Canover Watson (43), currently the managing director of a local hedge fund services firm Admiral Administration, part of the Maitland financial group, has not been formally charged and was released on police bail to return on September 29. He is also a director of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange.
The contract for a healthcare card payment system was awarded in 2010 to AIS Cayman Ltd, which is part owned by Douglas Halsall, the chief executive officer of Advanced Information Systems Ltd (AIS) of Kingston, Jamaica. According to its website, AIS is a leading transaction processing service provider in the health insurance and financial services industries and the largest processor of online, real-time, and paperless, health claims in the region.
At the time, Watson was not only chairman of the HSA board but also chairman of the nine-member technical committee that evaluated and recommended the AIS bid over a cheaper bid from CMS Cap Management Systems (CMS) of California.
According to the relevant tender documents, the total five-year cost of the new system, including set up costs, was US$13.6 million for the AIS bid compared to $12.8 million for CMS.
There is some speculation that Watson may have had an undeclared interest in the company that was awarded the contract since one of the offences he is suspected of having committed relates to decisions taken by public officers in which they have a personal interest where those decisions are not disclosed.
To do so is an offence under the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Law, carrying a prison term of up to five years.
He is also suspected of breach of trust and abuse of public office under the same law, as well as money laundering contrary to the Proceeds of Crime Law.