He made slight mention of a former government minister’s criminal liabilities, but Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn has left little doubt that he expects more responsible corporate governance in the wake of the Donville Inniss Scandal.
Declaring that it can no longer be business as usual in the way business is conducted in Barbados, he said private and public sector leaders must intensify their efforts to ensure good corporate governance.
Straughn was addressing the Barbados Stock Exchange’s (BSE) sixth annual conference on Corporate Governance and Accountability at the Hilton Hotel Resort on Friday.
“Recent indictments of former ministers of government and the publication of the sordid details of what took place with one of your very listed companies is a clear shot across the bow for the entire people’s business whether in private or public institutions is done with absolutely clean hands,” said Straughn.
“To that end, as we have constituted the new boards of management across the many state-owned enterprises, the Ministry of Finance, as a matter of urgency, has proposed that all board members must be exposed to the principles and practices of good corporate governance and anti-money laundering training. We believe this is critical to Barbados’ ability to re-establish itself as a jurisdiction where corruption is not only perceived to be low but is indeed the reality,” he said.
Former Minister of International Business and Small Business Development under the Democratic Labour Party government, Donville Inniss, was arrested on August 3 in the United States and charged with one count of conspiracy to launder money and two counts of money laundering.
The federal court indictment, sealed on March 15, alleges that in 2015 and 2016, he took part in a scheme to launder into the US approximately $36,000 in bribes that he received from executives of a Barbados company, which was not named in the indictment, but later revealed to be Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited (ICBL).
In his return, he would use his ministerial office to cause the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) to renew insurance contracts of almost $1 million with ICBL, prosecutors alleged.
On August 24, Inniss pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and money laundering charges in a New York court.
He is due to reappear in federal court on October 23.