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A Cayman Islands’ soccer federation official and former longtime associate at offshore law firm Maples and Calder was arrested late last week in connection with a money laundering probe.
The Anti-Corruption Commission in the Cayman Islands announced the arrest on June 29. A July 3 statement from Cayman-based lawyer Steve McField confirmed that the commission arrested his client, Bruce Blake, a former member of Maples’ finance group who has recently served as first vice president for the Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA).
McField’s statement firmly denies any wrongdoing by Blake and says the CIFA official was released on bail after his arrest and has not been formally charged by investigators at the anti-corruption commission.
“Mr. Blake is obviously shocked and dismayed by these suspicious allegations,” the statement said.
In 2015, Blake left his position at Maples, where he had reportedly been an associate in the finance group for 17 years, to focus on his role at the CIFA. The Cayman Islands association is a member of the international soccer governing body FIFA, which is still facing fallout from a corruption scandal.
Beyond denying any improper behavior, McField’s statement details the claims against Blake, saying he was hauled in on suspicions of “secret commission,” an offense under a 2008 Cayman Islands anti-corruption law that’s similar to bribery and money laundering.
The allegations relate to two loan agreements, each worth $600,000, which Blake signed on CIFA’s behalf. Blake was allegedly under suspicion of arranging the loans in exchange for corrupt or improper advantages for himself or another party, according to the statement.
But according to McField, the loans were both received in a CIFA account at one bank and Blake believed he was signing them to pay off an unsecured loan that the CIFA held at another bank. The transfer from unsecured to secured loans came in light of a FIFA regulation that required these types of loans to be secured, Blake’s lawyer said.
“Mr. Blake has not at anytime engaged in arranging nor receiving any secret commission. Mr. Blake has not at anytime engaged in money laundering,” said McField in his statement. “Mr. Blake is innocent of these suspicious allegations against him and the law protects the presumption of his innocence.”
McField also raised questions about the Cayman Islands anti-corruption commission’s investigation into the matter, saying it was “suspicious” that Blake was arrested in part because the CIFA official has cooperated with investigators—including U.S. authorities and FIFA officials—and because, as a lawyer he’s familiar with the Cayman Islands’ anti-corruption law.
“Mr. Blake has nothing to hide and no information to withhold from the Anti-Corruption Commission investigators. So, without any doubt as to his innocence of these suspicious allegations, Mr. Blake has fully cooperated with the investigators with all the relevant information in his possession inclusive of computer, telephone, books and records,” McField said. “Mr. Blake is obviously shocked and dismayed by these suspicious allegations.”