The defence attorney for ex-commerce minister Donville Inniss is yet to see the “smoking gun” evidence that links his client to charges of money laundering he faces in the US, he told Barbados TODAY.
New York-based attorney, Garnett Sullivan suggested that based on what prosecutors have presented him thus far, he and his client are increasingly confident about their chances at trial.
Sullivan said in a telephone interview that the evidence he has seen does not prove the charges, especially as it relates to the bribery, which allegedly occurred in Barbados’ jurisdiction some time in 2015, while Inniss was a cabinet member in the Freundel Stuart administration.
“We have not received anything like a smoking gun as yet or anything close to it. At this point beyond what is listed in the charges, I don’t know anything about bribery. Whatever evidence they [US prosecutors] have, I have not seen it as yet,” said Sullivan.
But the pre-trial discovery process, in which the prosecution turns over evidence to the defence counsel is not yet complete, he said.
The former St James South MP, 52, pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned on August 23 in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York. Inniss is scheduled to return to court tomorrow.
During his interview with Barbados TODAY, Sullivan said that his client continues to maintain his innocence. He also suggested that the idea of a plea deal is not being considered by Inniss, who is instead prepared to let the matter play out at trial, a process the lawyer believes could take up to two years.
“The likelihood is that we are going forward to a trial which is possibly going to occur in a year or two from now. The court is going to set the schedule but it is clearly going to culminate in a trial. Mr Inniss has pleaded not guilty and will be maintaining his innocence. When we go to court on Tuesday it would be just another status conference where court is updated on the status of certain matters and schedules are set for other things,” Sullivan said.
The attorney confirmed reports that Inniss’ Democratic Labour Party (DLP) colleague and former Attorney General, Adriel Braithwaite, will be doing the legwork on the bribery accusation which allegedly occurred in Barbados and is central to the US’ case for money laundering.
“Central to the charge is that he [Inniss] allegedly violated Barbados’ law and I don’t know much about Barbados’ laws. So [Brathwaite] will be an advisor to me in that regard. Most occurrences are alleged to have taken place in Barbados and that’s where all of the witnesses would be so it would make sense that someone carries out investigations there,” Sullivan told Barbados TODAY.
Inniss is charged with money laundering and conspiracy in an indictment that said he engaged in a scheme to take about $36,000 in bribes from high-level executives of an insurance company, later revealed to be the Insurance Corporation of Barbados, in 2015 and 2016.
The prosecutors said Inniss used his position as a minister to help the insurer secure two government contracts and that he concealed the nature of the bribes by receiving them through a dental company and a bank located in Elmont, New York, under the guise of payments for consulting services.
The dental firm is owned by Inniss’ neighbour in the Florida city of Tampa, where the ex-minister, a US permanent resident, also lives.