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MIAMI (Reuters) - FIFA faces more embarrassment after a member of its financial watchdog was arrested on suspicion of corruption and money-laundering in the Cayman Islands.
Canover Watson, one of eight members of FIFA’s Audit and Compliance 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 FIFA committee, headed by Italian Domenico Scala, is charged with ensuring the “completeness and reliability of the financial accounting” of world soccer’s governing body.
FIFA did not immediately respond for comment when contacted by Reuters.
Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Commissioner David Baines issued a statement to local media saying 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".
Those allegations refer to Watson’s time at the head of Cayman’s Health Service Authority and follow a police investigation into the introduction a swipe card system.
Baines also cited "suspicion of money-laundering contrary to section 133 of the Proceeds of Crime Law" in the Watson case.
“The allegations are denied. In due course, at the proper time and in the appropriate forum, I look forward to setting out my position in greater detail," Watson said in a statement to the Cayman Compass newspaper.
"For present purposes since the police investigation is ongoing, I have been advised by my attorneys that it would be inappropriate for me to make further comment.”
The newspaper said no charges had yet been filed against Watson who under his bail terms is due to report back to police on Sept. 29.
The Cayman Islands has become a power center within the CONCACAF region, which governs soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
The president of CONCACAF is FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb, who is also president of the Cayman Islands Football Association which lists Watson as its treasurer.
Webb took over as CONCACAF president after the resignation Trinidadian Jack Warner, who was at the center of numerous corruption allegations.
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond