Some unease may be spreading among persons in territories stretching from Barbados to the USA because of the possibility that the island’s ex-government minister, Donville Inniss, who is on money laundering charges may implicate others.
Inniss was arrested earlier this month and brought before a Florida court on Aug. 06 and a New York court, Aug. 23, on a three-count indictment, one count of conspiracy to launder money and two counts of money laundering.
The US Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York stated, “the charges stem from Inniss’ acceptance of bribes from a Barbadian insurance company in 2015 and 2016 when he was a public official.”
Since his Aug. 23 court reappearance, in New York, information has emerged that Inniss is cooperating with authorities, and that there may be other defendants.
An article appearing in the Barbados Nation newspaper has reported a former ministerial colleague, ex-attorney general Adriel Brathwaite who accompanied him to court, saying that an amended indictment was handed down adding an unspecified number of defendants in the matter.
Inniss, a minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development in the last government that was swept out of power in the May 24 elections, is alleged to have conspired with persons in a Barbados company, Insurance Corporation of Barbados Ltd (ICBL), to pay him $36,000 to use his authority to ensure that the firm’s million-dollar contract with a state-owned company under his ministerial portfolio is renewed.
The US Attorney’s Office alleges that he 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.
Inniss is set to reappear in the New York court on Oct. 23.
Movements of the ex-minister who is on $50,000 bail, have been restricted to New York and parts of Florida.
The so far unnamed added defendants that ex-AG Brathwaite reportedly mentioned, would not include ICBL, because its parent company in Bermuda, BF&M, issued a statement Monday indicating that the US Department of Justice had ended its investigation of the Barbados subsidiary, “bringing to a close a review of two improper payments made by the company in 2015 and 2016.”
BF&M stated that the key factors influencing the DOJ’s decision “to close the investigation without charging the company include ICBL’s swift self-disclosure of the payments to the DOJ, the robust cooperation of its board and management, and the company’s remediation, including the fact that all executives and employees involved in the misconduct are no longer at the company.”
While there is one report that other names have been added to the DOJ charge sheet, speculation is rife that Inniss’ current cooperation with the DOJ could result in a deal which may lead to names of Barbadian and American business operators, even the island’s government officials including other former ministers.
“Both sides acknowledged that to date Mr. Inniss has been cooperative. Indeed, he has been cooperative from the day of his arrest,” the Nation newspaper quoted Inniss, the ex-attorney general saying about the relationship between his indicted colleague and the DOJ.
The ex-minister’s responsibility in the last government included industry, international business and commerce sectors which meant that he presided over all state agencies responsible for licensing and regulating resident branches or subsidiaries of global firms — such as ICBL — and offshore finances operators.
For this reason, Inniss’ cooperation could present to the DOJ the type of gateway they need into activities of bigger movers and shakers of industry and international finance.