Barbados ex-gov’t minister humbled

Former Barbados minister, Donville Inniss.
Photo by George Alleyne

Ex-Barbados government minister, Donville Inniss, a once powerful outspoken official for most of the 10 years of the past administration is now reduced to wearing an electronic monitoring device while his travel is restricted.

Inniss, a minister of industry, international business, commerce and small business development in the past government, was arrested in Florida over the weekend and taken to court Monday on charges “with conspiracy to launder money and money laundering.”

The US Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York stated, “the charges stem from Inniss’s acceptance of bribes from a Barbadian insurance company in 2015 and 2016 when he was a public official.”

The indictment alleges, “from in or about and between August 2015 and April 2016, the defendant Donville Inniss leveraged his position as the minister of Industry and engaged in a scheme to accept approximately $36,000 in bribes from [a Barbados insurance company], in violation of Barbadian law, and to launder that money to and through the United States.”

He was released on $50,000 bond after that Monday court appearance.

The Nation newspapers in Barbados on Wednesday reported that he is scheduled to reappear in court on Aug. 23, this time in Brooklyn, and the conditions of his release include wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet on his ankle.

His movements are limited to the court’s jurisdictional district.

The former minister, who holds US permanent resident status, was also made to hand in his Barbadian passport and was prohibited from seeking any other travel document.

According to the Nation newspaper, part of Inniss’ bond conditions state, “the defendant shall submit to supervision by and report for supervision to the United States Pretrial Services Agency as directed by the United States Pretrial Services Agency or supervising officer.”

These imposed conditions must be demeaning to Inniss who was known for not pulling punches when expressing opinions and had publicly disagreed with decisions of the past government cabinet.

“That a former minister would be involved in the kinds of things alleged by the Justice Department makes me numb,” the newspaper also reported Adrian Mapp, a Barbadian and mayor of the New Jersey city of Plainfield, saying, “The allegations and the federal indictment of Inniss have left me feeling ashamed, hurt and numb.”

Earl Phillips, another Barbadian and secretary treasurer of the New York City Transport Workers Union Local 100, was reported expressing shock and saying, “Inniss owes Barbadians a public explanation.”

The US Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York, stated that the ex-minister’s indictment alleges, “in exchange for the bribes, Inniss leveraged his position as the minister of Industry to enable the Barbados [insurance] company to obtain two government contracts. Inniss concealed the bribes by arranging to receive them through a dental company and a bank located in Elmont, New York. Barbados company executives transferred the funds to the dental company using an invoice falsely claiming that the payments were for consulting services.”

The allegation is that consistent with the bribe deal the ex-minister used his official position as minister of Industry to ensure that the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation renewed an insurance contract with the Barbados insurance company at a premium of approximately $944,956.12 to the Barbados insurance company and another insurance firm.

A recent Barbados government document states that BIDC, which was established to increase exports and employment through investment, has had $5.315 million approved in funding for the 2018-19 budget year. It has an outstanding debt of $19 million and accumulated arrears of $10.7 million.

News of this corruption charge against a minister in a former Barbados government comes weeks after attorney general of the new administration, Dale Marshall, warned of an intention to pursue and prosecute public officials suspected of corruption as far up the ladder as former government ministers.

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