Cayman Islands regulator called on to step aside in FIFA probe

US prosecutors allege bribery payments to former Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) president, Jeffrey Webb, were routed through Fidelity Bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, controlled by Webb’s attaché Costas Takkas.

Prior to his election as CONCACAF president, Webb was a manager at the bank’s now closed money transfer centre.

CIMA said in a statement on Monday that it is monitoring the allegations, which include the funneling of bribe payments to Webb through Fidelity Bank.

“The Authority takes these matters very seriously and in respect of the allegations relating to one of our licensees, we will act appropriately, dispassionately and in accordance with our obligations under the law,” CIMA said.

However, Cindy Scotland is married to Mark Scotland, a former government sports minister, who in 2014 began working for Webb as youth development director for the Cayman Islands Football Association and was, in fact, in Zurich, Switzerland, with Webb when he (Webb) was one of seven FIFA officials arrested last Wednesday.

Furthermore, former Cayman Islands government minister Cline Glidden was also in Switzerland with Webb last week for FIFA’s annual meeting and has reportedly been working for CONCACAF on the creation of a regional football dispute resolution court.

Glidden’s wife Gloria currently serves as deputy head of CIMA’s banking division.

In an editorial on Thursday, a local newspaper, the Caymanian Compass, said, “The conflict of interest is clear: As long as Mrs Scotland does not formally step aside, her agency CIMA cannot be expected to investigate ‘dispassionately’ allegations and issues that are entangled with the organization her husband Mr Scotland works for, or his direct business associates.”

The CIMA board met on Thursday to discuss the ongoing FIFA scandal and how it could potentially affect Cayman’s financial services industry.

The board said that Cindy Scotland had established “an internal group” headed up by CIMA’s head of banking supervision “specifically structured with a view to avoiding any perceived conflicts of interest.”

“The group is responsible for investigating and reporting exclusively to the non-executive board on these matters,” the board said.

According to CIMA chairman George McCarthy, board members were “very much concerned about the events that are occurring,” but decided that it was too early for direct board involvement.

McCarthy confirmed that Cindy Scotland would remain in her role as managing director of CIMA and that there was “no need for her to set aside her role at this time.”

McCarthy also said there was no evidence at the present time that any Cayman Islands bank had done anything wrong.

Fidelity Bank has also announced plans to conduct an internal review of transactions linked to the FIFA probe.

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