Donville Inniss Case Points to Endemic Corruption in Barbados
The blogmaster found the Patrick Hoyos article to be – without prolix – a good summary of the Donville Inniss matter. Especially as it pertains to the inference other payments were made to Donville Inniss and that bribery by elected officials was commonplace in Barbados. Although we have the Attorney General et al saying that local laws would not have permitted prosecution of Inniss this position was challenged during the Inniss trial.
The blogmaster’s wish is that we have a dispassionate debate in Barbados and a call to action by our officials regarding the honest prosecution of public officials. It is ironic former Speaker of the House MICHAEL CARRINGTON and Adriel Brathwaite, former Attorney General showed support for Inniss by attending the trial in New York. CARRINGTON’s legacy will be that a High Court judge had to issue a court order for him to release monies due his client 70+ John Griffiths, the blogmaster will remember Brathwiate for promising to report to parliament the status of Mia Mottley’s qualification (LEC) to practice before the Courts of Barbados. He never did.
The time has come to arrest the moral and ethical rot- add criminal. We have started to experience the negative fallout of pushing our heads in the sand.
Time for the authorities to do a job.
Time for the Prime Minister, Attorney General and stakeholders to lead the charge.
Importantly, time for John Citizens to hold officials accountable.
PS. Blame the blogmaster for paragraphs highlighted blue.
Four little words that spell prison
It was a four-word text that probably took only a few seconds to write and send, but the events it set in motion led to a guilty verdict on all three counts for former Minister of Industry and Commerce, Donville Inniss.
A United States jury last Thursday found Inniss guilty of two counts of money laundering stemming from two money transfers to the bank accounts of a dental office in New York, and one count of conspiracy to launder money. Prosecutors said Inniss arranged for the money to be transferred through the bank accounts to conceal the bribes. According to the Wall Street Journal, Anthony Ricco, a lawyer for Inniss, didn’t dispute the money transfers, but argued the government’s evidence didn’t support its view that there had been bribes in 2015 and 2016.
According to the Nation newspaper’s Maria Bradshaw, US Prosecutor David Gopstein, in his summation to the jury, said that Inniss was not performing consulting services for Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited, but was taking bribes and laundering money.
The prosecutor said that up to 2014, ICBL held 50 per cent of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation’s (BIDC) insurance contract, while Consumers’ Guarantee Insurance had 30 per cent and Trident Insurance 20 per cent.
When the time came for renewal in 2015, the BIDC board of directors recommended that the contract remain the same way, but on June 30, 2015, Alex Tasker, who was the senior vicepresident of ICBL, sent Inniss a text message saying: “We have to talk”.
This four-word message, the prosecutor told the jury, led to the bribery, which was arranged in a week and a half. The day after that text message, Inniss sent a letter to Sonja Trotman, chief executive officer of BIDC, inquiring about the insurance renewal.
As a result, ICBL increased its share to 70 per cent share, leaving CGI with 30 per cent, and Trident Insurance with zero.
The Wall Street Journal said that ICBL, which allegedly paid the bribes, “received a publicised letter in 2018 from the US Justice Department saying it was closing a probe into whether the company had violated the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”
That letter said, in part, that “the Department’s investigation found that ICBL, through its employees and agents, paid approximately $36 000 in bribes to a Barbadian government official in exchange for insurance contracts resulting in approximately $686 827.50 in total premiums for the contracts and approximately $93 940.19 in net profits”. The WSJ’s Dylan Tokar wrote in Friday’s edition that “ICBL had voluntarily disclosed the bribes, enhanced its compliance program and fired the individuals involved in the misconduct, the Justice Department said.”
He added that the Justice Department had sent the letter to ICBL under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act’s Corporate Enforcement Policy which, he said, “offers leniency to companies that disclose potential foreign bribery violations to prosecutors”. This means that Donville, Ingrid [Innes] and Alex had their conspiracy exposed by the parent of the company on whose behalf the latter two were working to increase sales, or at least make budget.
Isn’t it ironic?
It is also a different version of how the story got out than what our own Attorney-General said last Thursday after the verdict was handed down. He said: “It is significant that the conviction came about because individuals who had knowledge of the events were prepared to speak out and to give evidence about wrongdoing.” The AG added: “This is something that is required at all levels in Barbados’ society whether dealing with the scourge of corruption or the scourge of gun violence.”
Meantime, Tokar noted that the Justice Department last year charged ICBL’s former chief executive officer, Ingrid Innes, and its former senior vice- president, Tasker, “who prosecutors said acted as Mr Inniss’ co-conspirators. The two remain at large, a spokesman for the department said.”
As far as I can see, the response in Barbados among the average citizen has been that it’s about time somebody was charged for all of the perceived corruption that went on under the last administration. I haven’t heard much, if any, sympathy for Inniss or his alleged co-conspirators.”
Patrick Hoyos is a journalist and publisher specialising in business. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org