The Barbados government is calling on the local police to launch an investigations into a former government minister, who was indicted earlier this week in the United States on charges of conspiracy to launder money and money laundering.
Attorney General Dale Marshall, speaking at the post cabinet press conference on Thursday, said that law enforcement authorities here should probe former industry, international business, commerce and small business development minister, Donville Inniss, who was indicted in a New York Court on Monday following his alleged acceptance of bribes from a Barbadian insurance company in 2015 and 2016.
“I would say . . . that in any instance where the police have information that is credible that an offence has been committed, I would think that they would feel that it is within their remit to investigate and bring charges where appropriate,” Marshall told reporters.
“I don’t think it is fair for the commissioner of police to take the attitude that somebody must complain . . . perhaps that’s not what he meant. Complainant in law has a technical meaning . . . but the fact is that, I don’t want to think of it in terms of somebody complaining, I want to think of it in terms of somebody being a victim,” Marshall said.
Marshall said that the victims in this case are the people of Barbados who have paid their money into the insurance company.
“There is a victim, and I don’t think we need to have a complainant in an instance where a crime has been committed. I believe that it is well within the powers of the police . . . because the individuals are within our jurisdiction . . . to bring charges against them,” he said.
Inniss, 52, was arrested last Friday and was arraigned on Monday before United States Magistrate Judge Julie Sneed in the Middle District of Florida at the federal courthouse in Tampa. The former minister who was among the defeated candidates of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in the May 24 general election, was released on a US$50,000 bond. A three-count indictment was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn.
According to the indictment, between August 2015 and April 2016, Inniss engaged in a scheme to accept approximately US$36,000 in bribes from high-level executives of an unnamed insurance company headquartered in Barbados and launder that money through the United States.
In exchange for the bribes, Inniss leveraged his position as the Minister of Industry to enable the Barbados company to obtain two government contracts. He concealed the bribes by arranging to receive them through a dental company and a bank located in Elmont, New York. The insurance company executives transferred the funds to the dental company using an invoice falsely claiming that the payments were for consulting services.
During the time of the charged conspiracy, Inniss was a legal permanent resident of the United States residing in Tampa, Florida and Barbados.
“We have a major insurance corporation in Barbados that carries most of government’s insurance coverage. The allegations have been made that they or their officers have been engaged in corrupt practices. How do we justify continuing to place insurance coverage with that company? That is a very difficult decision to have. But at the same time, a large percentage of the shares of that company are owned by Barbadians like you or me and are also owned by the government,” Marshall told reporters.
“So we have to find a way that is not necessarily punitive, but allows us to have that kind of cathartic process. It would be difficult for the Government of Barbados to say we will take away all of our insurance coverage from that company. You would remember Barbados owned that company and that much of the insurance that they have now is legacy coverage. So how do we address that as a government?” Marshall said.