With the reputation of the nation’s largest insurer on the line over the alleged role of three former top executives in the Donville Inniss bribery scandal, the Bermuda-based parent BF&M is appealing to policyholders not to pull out of the Insurance Corporation of Barbados (ICBL).
Three former managers – the chief executive, a senior vice president and the financial controller – were all identified in a US Grand Jury indictment which alleges that they bribed Inniss, then Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, to the tune of $36,000 in exchange for him using his position to renew two insurance contracts for the state export promotion agency, the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), in 2015 and 2016.
Inniss is charged with laundering the money in a US bank account in the name of a New York dental company owned by a friend of his.
But this afternoon, the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the parent company, John Wight, sent a message to policyholders in a bid to convince them not to take their business elsewhere.
Wight sought to assure clients of ICBL that the bribery and money laundering charges should not be linked to the ongoing operations of the local insurance business, he told Barbados TODAY by telephone from the Bermuda offices of BF&M.
While steering of clear of judging the actions of the three senior executives, who resigned, he suggested to policyholders – the largest of whom is the Barbados Government – they should maintain confidence in ICBL’s integrity and stability.
“The company continues to have the strongest A.M Best ratings, plus A-minus excellence. It has a very strong capital base and continues to offer excellent service to its customers. So this incident is non-related to the ongoing operations of the business, which had been successful and continues to be successful into the future,” Wight contended.
Asked if he had anything to say to policyholders with regards to possible prosecution of the former senior officials or calling them to account for their actions, the CEO replied: “No, I have got nothing to state on that matter. I want to focus on the business and serving our customers
. . . nothing in that respect.”
Questioned whether systems had been put in place to avoid a similar incident from happening again, Wight repeated that he had nothing more to add.
Barbados TODAY also reached out to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BIDC Sonja Trotman for comment, but she, too, declined to speak on the matter.
“It is a court matter and we are not commenting on it,” said Trotman, on whose watch the alleged bribery scheme was run.
“The Barbados company employees, including Barbados company executives 1, 2 and 3, did not disclose to the Bermuda company that the payments were for the benefit of a Barbadian Government official and instead falsely claimed that the payments were for ‘consulting services’,” said the Grand Jury for the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
A week ago, Attorney General Dale Marshall told a press briefing at Government Headquarters that the money laundering scandal had tarnished this country’s investment and international business reputation.
Marshall had said that some investors were already pondering whether to remain here.
But he said that while it was a difficult decision, Government did not plan to pull its business or urge others to do so. Instead, he said he was considering a more reconciliatory approach.