By Paul Nicholson
July 3 – The Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) has been hit by further scandal with the arrest of First Vice-President Bruce Blake (pictured) by the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Commission. A second Cayman Island football official is believed to have been arrested but no names have been released.
Blake has been arrested on suspicion of money laundering and secret commissions, according to local news outlet Cayman 27.
Blake was a close associate of former CONCACAF and CIFA president Jeffrey Webb who is a central figure in the US Department of Justice indictments into corruption in global football. Webb has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing which last month was postponed for fifth time by a Brooklyn federal court judge. The new date is now set for 24 January 2018.
Blake, a former lawyer in the Cayman Islands at Maples, left his position in 2015 after the first round of US DoJ indictments of football executives. He took over as Acting CIFA President and served in that role until 2016 when Lee Ramoon was elected as president. He is a member of the Caribbean Football Union executive committee.
It is unclear if the charges against Blake relate to the activity of Webb and the US indictment to which he has pleaded guilty, to other football related activity, or to activity unrelated to football. Webb may have become the law enforcement gift that keeps on giving and with the major FIFA scandals already under investigation the web is potentially widening.
The Cayman Islands is policed by Britain’s Metropolitan Police and its financial crimes division. It has been very active in the Cayman Islands with its serious fraud squad in recent years including bringing actions against former Premier McKeeva Bush who was removed from his post in December 2012 following a vote of no confidence after his arrest on corruption charges. Bush was later acquitted of all charges against him in by the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands in 2014. He has since been re-elected as a member of parliament with his political party narrowly failing to return him to his former post of premier.
Blake has frequently denied any wrongdoing or knowing of any wrongdoing by CIFA members, including Webb and former CIFA treasurer Canover Watson. Watson was found guilty of fraud in the Cayman Islands in relation to the Health Services Authority CarePay scandal where over-inflated contracts were deemed to have been awarded to his associates and companies he had an interest in.
Watson was also a member of CONCACAF’s audit committee. His arrest, like Blake’s, was a great surprise to football’s regional insiders.
Blake has been a supporter of reform in the Caribbean, and although a member of the CFU executive committee, has been a strong behind-the-scenes supporter of CONCACAF’s re-organisation of the region which has seen the CFU’s financial support withdrawn and cracks emerge in its previous Caribbean solidarity.
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