Political leader and president of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Verla DePeiza said today she can only wait and see how the criminal case brought by the US against former DLP Cabinet Minister Donville Inniss unfolds, following news that the Justice Department has dropped one of the charges.
While describing the withdrawal of the charge as a small victory, DePeiza cautioned that her party colleague still had other charges to overcome, which she insisted would be an uphill battle.
Barbados TODAY broke the news yesterday in a front page story that the United States Justice Department had withdrawn one of the charges in an upgraded indictment under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act brought against the former International Business minister earlier in the year.
The article quoted court documents dated December 12, 2018, and obtained by Barbados TODAY in which United States Attorney Richard P Donoghue wrote to the Judge Kiyo Matsumoto who is presiding over Inniss’ case, stating that based on the ruling in the recent case United States versus Hoskins, the government was withdrawing a superseding indictment which had been brought against Inniss.
Last August 24, in a matter unrelated to Inniss’ case, the United States Court of Appeals had determined that a non-resident foreign national could not be held criminally liable for aiding or abetting or conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, unless the government could show that the accused acted as an agent of a domestic concern or while he or she was physically present in the United States. Legal arguments were that Inniss fitted into neither category.
Earlier in August a three-count indictment unsealed in a federal court in Brooklyn charged Inniss with conspiracy to launder money and two counts of money laundering in the United States. The indictment also accused the former St. James South MP of taking bribes from the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited (ICBL) in 2015 and 2016 while he was Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development.
The superseding indictment brought against Inniss has also mentioned the positions of two other defendants, namely an ICBL chief executive officer who the document referred to as a “Canadian citizen and a resident of Barbados” and an ICBL senior vice-president, who the nine-page indictment also indicated was a citizen and resident of Barbados. These two individuals have not yet been arrested in the United States and it is not known if either has travelled there since Inniss’ initial detention.
But when asked today to comment on this new development in the case, DePeiza declared: “Our law is nothing like the US law, and I know nothing about US law. Like everybody else, I am watching. One down, two to go. So there is still quite a batte that he will be facing. It’s a small victory, but as you know, every war has several battle skirmishes in it. So I don’t think they will be resting back on their laurels. But because I am not au fait with US law, all I can say on the legal front is that I am watching and learning along with everybody else.”
The DLP political leader also refused to predict any possible outcomes of the case, which is unfolding in a completely different jurisdiction.
She also declined to comment on what impact bribery allegations involving Inniss and two senior executives of the Insurance Corporation of Barbados (ICBL) would have on the outcome of the case in the US.
“I can’t tell you anything until evidence is brought out. I also noticed that the indictment [in the US] was careful not to name people. Other people have named them. They certainly have not been charged in the US or anywhere else. So I am not in a position to comment on them. There is no charge here. There is no charge there. So I cannot comment on any of that,” she reasoned.