(BARBADOS TODAY) – Donville Inniss who 20 months ago was a senior Government minister in Barbados, today had a conviction for money laundering marked against his record in a Brooklyn, New York court.
And in another month, the former politician who served for as the Member of Parliament for St James South will know his punishment for accepting just over $70,000 in bribes while being a Minister of the Crown, money that the jury agreed, he illegally filtered through a New York dental business into his own account.
Today, Inniss sat emotionless as District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto read the three guilty verdicts to him at 3:45 p.m. in the Eastern District Federal Court in New York where he endured a three-day trial on the money laundering charges.
Following one hour and 52 minutes of deliberations by the 12-member jury, Inniss, the former Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, was found guilty of laundering $16,536.73 on April 17, 2015 and $20,000 on April 18, 2016,
through a US company Crystal Dental Lab, along with conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Once the verdict was read, a tense-looking Inniss looked to his right where his older brother, wife Gail and close friend Adriel Brathwaite had sat for the duration of the trial which began on Monday.
One woman who sat amongst them began to cry.
Inniss’ attorney Anthony Ricco then told the court he would provide written submissions to the court by January 30. Lead prosecutor Sylvia Shweder told Judge Matsumoto she would require two weeks to reply to those submissions and agreed to a February 13 date.
Ricco then said if necessary, he would need another week to respond to the prosecutor.
Inniss will remain on bail during this period and his conditions will apply.
However, speaking to reporters immediately after the verdict was handed down, Ricco revealed he would be appealing the decision on the ground that there was insufficient evidence.
The lawyer said it was “interesting” how the US Government chose to go after Inniss, a former Barbadian public official.
The well-respected lawyer said this was the first time in history anyone had been convicted under the Anti-Bribery Law: Prevention of Corruption Act of Barbados.
“I’ve been in this business for over 39 years and I accept the verdicts of the jury. But when I look at it, we have a case where an American jury is judging a Barbadian official from the mindset of an American.
“Can you imagine what would have happened if an American official had been arrested in Barbados and tried in Barbados? It’s unheard of,” Ricco said.
“I plan to appeal and challenge the decision based on the insufficiency of the evidence. The trial is just step one of what could be many. The other day a guy was convicted and he appealed and 25 of his counts were thrown out. We don’t have 25 counts, but justice is a long road and we’re built for it.”
Ricco revealed that Inniss was also not in favour of the decision handed down.
But when asked if there had been discussions with the prosecution surrounding guidelines for sentencing, Ricco said it was an “open range”.
While he admitted that the over US$36,000 which Inniss had been found guilty of money laundering was “not a lot of money”, he said there might be a move by the prosecution to make an example out of Inniss.
“It isn’t a lot of money, it’s only $36,000, because in a lot of money laundering cases the figure is much more, but then we have to look at the deterrent effect. The US may want to get the message across to people that if you’re not doing it the right way, don’t put your money in our banks, so that may be an issue at sentencing. The US may determine that they have to do what is needed to deter this kind of behaviour.
“As it stands now, Inniss had an exemplary record prior to being convicted and that’s where our focus will be [at sentencing],” Ricco said.