Barbadian due in New York court

Former Barbados government minister, Donville Inniss.
Photo by George Alleyne

A New York judge could possibly soon have another Barbadian standing in that judicial officer’s court answering to money laundering charges, the same for which the island’s former government minister, Donville Inniss, was convicted.

A New York court had in January found Inniss guilty of two counts of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering based on bribes received from a Barbados insurance company that had its headquarters in Bermuda.

During the course of the trial in the District Court of the Eastern District of New York authorities alleged that two executives of the company, Insurance Corporation of Barbados, Alex Tasker and Ingrid Innes, were co-conspirators in a plot to pay between 2015 and 2016 the then government minister $36,000 to use his authority to ensure that the firm’s million-dollar contract with a state-owned company under Inniss’ ministerial portfolio is renewed.

The US Attorney’s Office alleged that he and the executives conspired to hide the payment by having the money sent to a New York dental company, then into his bank account through a number of transfers.

American authorities had applied to the Barbados government for Tasker’s extradition on charges of conspiracy to launder money and money laundering. The island’s attorney general accepted the request and issued an arrest warrant for Tasker on Monday. As is customary in such cases he was then dragged before the local court for a hearing.

US authorities are said to be conducting similar proceedings against Innes, reportedly a Guyanese-Canadian, who has taken up residence in Canada.

The court placed Tasker on $100,000 bail, seized his travel documents and ordered him to reappear on Jan. 12.

But Tasker’s lead attorney among his battery of lawyers, Andrew Pilgrim, made known that his client was going nowhere without a fight and contended that the issue is one of a large powerful country bullying tiny Barbados.

“I am always nothing short of amazed when a person like Donald Trump and the United States of America could come into our little country and say to us, ‘Go and lock up your citizens. Don’t mind having shown them nothing yet; you go and lock them up.’ Go at their house at 3:30 in the morning and bring them to court’,” he said.

“What is special about Alex Tasker, who has been living in Barbados his whole, entire life, for them to bring some five-year-old charges now for whatever reason? I don’t know if it is because Mr. Inniss is up there slipping through their fingers,” Pilgrim asked, implying that though convicted Inniss may escape prison time.

Meanwhile, Inniss, who is out on bail awaiting sentencing in April, indicated to Barbados media houses that he wishes Tasker well.

At the same time, he however stated, “I am not distracted on court issues in Barbados that I am not a defendant. I remain focused on fighting the injustices meted out to me in the USA. I was not bribed by anyone or any company in Barbados or anywhere and will continue to fight these charges and convictions.”

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