The Crown’s top prosecutor is yet to have the last word, but so far the police chief has no plans to add to the legal troubles of former Cabinet minister Donville Inniss, unless a complaint is made to the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF).
Although Inniss is accused by a US federal grand jury of taking US$36,000 in bribes from a Barbadian insurance company and laundering the cash through a friend’s business in the United States, local police remain in the dark on investigations into the former government minister’s alleged activities, and can only act if a report is made to lawmen, Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith told Barbados TODAY.
“We only pursue matters where we have a complainant, and as far as I am aware no report has been made to us,” Griffith said.
No information was shared between the RBPF and US federal law enforcement regarding allegations of bribery and money laundering, Griffith declared.
The police chief himself only learnt of Inniss’ legal troubles through the media and social media, he said.
“I know as much as everybody else on the matter based on what was reported on social media and in the papers,” the island’s most senior police officer revealed.
Should the former minister be found guilty in the US, it would not be enough to bring him up on charges locally, the top cop said, while promising that the Force had the investigative tools to probe financial impropriety allegations.
“Even if he is found guilty, it still requires someone to come forward and complain, whoever that may be. Someone has to make the initial complaint, that is how the police get involved.
“We have a white-collar crime unit and
. . . if matters of such a nature are brought to our attention we will investigate it. We have the capability and capacity to deal with these matters,” Griffith said.
A complaint could yet come from the Director of Public Prosecutions. So far the office of the Crown Prosecutor has been silent on whether charges could be forthcoming.
A Grand Jury indictment filed with the US federal district court for the Eastern District of New York refers to breaches in Barbadian law, namely the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1929.
US federal prosecutors charge that Inniss engaged in conspiracy of bribery and money laundering some time between August 2015 and April 2016.
Inniss, who served as Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development in the last administration, is said to have caused insurance contracts with the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), then under his ministerial control, to be awarded to a majority-Bermudian owned Barbadian insurance company not named in the indictment, but since identified as the Insurance Corporation of Barbados (ICBL).
He was released on US$50,000 bond on appearing in a US federal court in Tampa, Florida, where he was arrested last Friday.
Attorney Adam Nate, who represented Inniss during the bond hearing, told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that he was no longer representing the former parliamentarian, as the matter was now in the New York jurisdiction.
BF&M Insurance, ICBL’s parent company, said it had purged ICBL of executives in 2016 after learning of impropriety at the nation’s largest insurer.
But the names of the sacked individuals were not revealed nor was it confirmed that the dismissals had anything to do with the money laundering investigation of Inniss.
Griffith said even if there were a connection, ICBL’s failure to report the incident to police was not a major concern.
“I am not concerned with matters that are done in private and are not reported to the police. We are not just walking around and looking to get wind of things that don’t call to us. Surely, if reports are made to us we will deal with them,” the police chief said.