A former Barbados government minister, Donville Inniss, was sentenced to two years in jail on Tuesday after he was found guilty by a federal jury in January last year for his role in a scheme to launder bribes paid to him by executives of the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited (ICBL).
Following a one-week trial and two hours of jury deliberations, Inniss, 55, a U.S. legal permanent resident who resided in Tampa, Florida, and Barbados, was found guilty of two counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Inniss has until July 29 to surrender to federal prison authorities.
The former industry, international business, commerce and small business development minister in Barbados, appeared before Kiyo Matsumoto in the Eastern District Court of New York. He was accompanied by his wife Gail, former attorney general Adriel Brathwaite and Rev. Guy Hewitt.
He later said he regretted the embarrassment he caused to his wife and family.
Matsumoto said he took into consideration Inniss’s previously clean record, his personal development and having come from a poor background as well as his community and national service in Barbados.
According to the evidence presented at trial, in 2015 and 2016, Inniss took part in a scheme to launder into the United States approximately US$36,000 in bribes that he received from high-level executives of ICBL.
At the time, Inniss was a member of the Parliament of Barbados and the Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce, and Small Business Development of Barbados.
The court heard that in exchange for the bribes, Inniss leveraged his position as the Minister of Industry to enable ICBL to obtain two insurance contracts from the Barbados government to insure over US$100 million worth of government property.
To conceal the bribes, Inniss arranged to receive them through a U.S. bank account in the name of his friend’s dental company, which had an address in Elmont, New York. The trial evidence further showed that Inniss used a personal email account to communicate with an executive from ICBL in connection with the bribe payments and the laundering of the money through the dental company in New York.
“As a government official, Inniss was responsible for improving the economic development and quality of life for Barbados and its people. But as proven at trial, he corruptly abused his position and the U.S. financial system to enrich himself,” said Richard P. Donoghue, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, at the end of the trial.