Inniss’ sentencing for November

By Emmanuel Joseph, Barbados Today,

Former Democratic Labour Party Cabinet Minister Donville Inniss has lost his battle seeking freedom from a conviction on three counts of money laundering.

Inniss, who was found guilty on January 16 this year in a New York court and now awaits sentencing, had his appeal for acquittal filed last Friday, thrown out by United States District judge Kiyo Matsumoto.

A jury found the former Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of substantive money laundering.

But Inniss challenged the sufficiency of the evidence on all three counts of conviction regarding whether he was part of a scheme to induce a bribe and whether the payments to him were corrupt or represented payments for a favorable vote.

In his judgment Judge Matsumoto said both grounds essentially argue that there was insufficient evidence at trial for the jury to conclude that Inniss intended to promote a violation of the Prevention of Corruption Act of Barbados.

In outlining the reasons for dismissing Inniss’ appeal, the court found that there was sufficient evidence for a jury to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Consequently, the court respectfully denies Mr. Inniss’ motion for a judgment of acquittal,” Matsumoto ruled.

“Although defense counsel acknowledges “there were text messages and emails . . . and clear evidence of the money transfers from Barbados to a third party in the United States and back into Donville Inniss’ bank account,” defense counsel contends that “there was no trial testimony upon which the jury could properly infer that the conduct of Donville Inniss was part of a scheme to induce a bribe, an essential element of each count,” the judge declared.

The judge ruled that the government presented substantial evidence at trial that both bribe payments to Inniss were made to secure the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Ltd.’s (ICBL) contracts with the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (“BIDC”), a Barbadian government agency that Inniss oversaw in his position as the former Minister of Industry and a member of the Barbados Parliament.

First the Government presented evidence that, in July 2015, Mr. Inniss met with Ms. Innes, who was at that time the CEO of ICBL, to discuss the renewal of ICBL’s contracts with the BIDC.”

“On or about and between June 22, 2015 and July 15, 2015, the BIDC awarded and finalized the 2015 insurance contract to ICBL and Consumers’ Guarantee Insurance (“CGI”), in which ICBL received a 70 per cent share and CGI received a 30 per cent share,” the judge continued.

“The contract term was from July 15, 2015 to April 1, 2016, and the total premium on ICBL’s portion of the business was $661,469.30 Barbadian dollars,” Matsumoto said in his judgment.

The judge said that in August 2015, Kamante Millar, the former Chief Financial Officer of ICBL, attended a meeting with Ms. Innes and Mr. Tasker, then Senior VP of ICBL.

He stated that during the meeting, Ms. Innes told Ms. Millar that ICBL needed to make an urgent payment in USD to Mr. Inniss for a “referral bonus”.

Justice Matsumoto said that after the meeting, Mr. Tasker provided Ms. Millar with the bank account information for Crystal Dental Lab’s (“CDL”), a New York-based dental company operated by Inniss’ associate, Roger Clarke.

He submitted that CDL conducted no business with ICBL in 2015 or 2016.

However, the judge told the court that Mr. Tasker instructed Ms. Millar to send the former industry minister $16,536.73, which was the amount determined by multiplying the premium on the contract by a rate.

He explained that Ms. Millar further testified that she created a fake invoice dated August 10, 2015 from CDL to ICBL for $16,536.73, and sent the invoice to BF&M Ltd. ICBL’s parent company in Bermuda for processing.

Inniss will be sentenced on November 23 at 11 am.

Main photo: Former Democratic Labour Party Cabinet Minister Donville Inniss

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