Ex-Barbados minister jailed for laundering bribes in NY

Former Barbadian government minister Donville Inniss.
Photo by George Alleyne

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) says that a former Minister of Industry and elected member of Parliament of Barbados was sentenced on Tuesday to two years in prison for his role in a scheme to launder bribe payments from a Barbadian insurance company through bank accounts in New York.

The DOJ said Donville Inniss, 55, a US lawful permanent resident who resided in Tampa, Fl., and Barbados, was convicted by a federal jury of two counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering on Jan. 16, 2020.

According to the evidence presented at trial, in 2015 and 2016, Inniss took part in a scheme to launder into the United States about $36,000 in bribes that he had received from high-level executives of the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited (ICBL).

In exchange for the bribes, Inniss leveraged his position as the Minister of Industry to enable ICBL to obtain two insurance contracts from the Barbados government to insure over $100 million worth of government property.

To conceal the bribes, the DOJ said Inniss arranged to receive them through a US bank account in the name of his friend’s dental company, which had an address in Elmont, New York.

“Donville Inniss engaged in a bribery and money laundering scheme to line his own pockets at the expense of the people of Barbados,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

“International corruption undermines trust in governments, threatens our national security, and prevents the free market from functioning fairly for law-abiding people and companies,” he added. “Today’s sentence sends a strong message that the department is committed to prosecuting corrupt officials, like Inniss, who seek to use the US financial system to hide their bribe payments.”

Acting US Attorney Mark J. Lesko of the Eastern District of New York said that, “in accepting bribes and laundering the payments through banks on Long Island, Inniss not only abused the public trust that was placed in him by the people of Barbados, he also stained the US banking system with the proceeds of his corrupt scheme.

“The defendant’s sentence today reflects the seriousness of his crimes,” he said.

In addition to the prison sentence, the court also ordered Inniss to pay $36,536.73 in forfeiture, the DOJ said.

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