Former chief financial officer (CFO) of the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited (ICBL) Kamante Millar today admitted to writing two fraudulent invoices for monies to be paid to former government minister Donville Inniss.
However, Millar, who has turned State’s witness in the case being heard in a Brooklyn, New York court, said while she felt “uncomfortable” performing the deed she never believed the monies being paid to Inniss were bribes.
The former ICBL accountant was the first witness to take the stand in the trial against Inniss, who is charged with two counts of money laundering along with conspiracy to commit money laundering.
He has been accused by the United States of accepting bribes from the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited (ICBL) in 2015 and 2016 totaling over US $36 000, while he was Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development.
The US Attorney’s Office has also alleged that Inniss conspired to hide the payment by having the money sent to a New York dental company then into his bank account through a number of transfers.
During his examination, Federal prosecutor Gerald Moody revealed that Millar had signed a non-prosecution agreement with the US Government in July 2017.
She said in exchange for “telling the truth” no charges would be brought against her, despite her admitted role.
Millar told the court that in August 2015, she attended a meeting with former chief executive officer (CEO) of ICBL Ingrid Innes and former senior vice-president with responsibility for business development and marketing Alex Tasker.
Following that meeting, she said Innes instructed her to make “an urgent payment” of a referral bonus to Inniss.
She said she was uncomfortable with the request made by Innes as he was “politically exposed” and she enquired if she Innes had cleared such a transaction with the company’s chairman John Wight, to which Innes responded, “It’s fine”.
She said she was given a piece of paper by Tasker which she subsequently prepared into an invoice for $16 536.73 to be paid to Inniss.
One year later in 2016, Millar said she wrote a similar invoice also to be paid to Inniss for $20 000.
Both payments were made in US currency and paid by BF&M, the majority stakeholder in ICBL.
Millar said she was instructed to send the money to Inniss’ company, Crystal Dental Lab in the US.
“I knew what I was doing was wrong because invoices usually come from external sources not internally…it wasn’t authentic. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do but I felt I had no choice so I did what the CEO wanted,” the St Vincent-born Millar said.
She insisted that she never believed she was committing a crime. Millar said if she had felt that way she would never have done it.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Anthony Ricco, Millar said she had a tumultuous relationship with Innes from the time she took up her post.
She described Innes as a “heavy-handed” boss who verbally abused her.
Ricco also suggested to Millar that during an interview with the FBI she told them that Tasker had informed her that the monies to be paid to Inniss were “political payments, commissions and contributions”.
She however said she could not recall making such a statement.
Millar also said she was not aware of any relationship between Inniss and Innes.
When questioned, Millar admitted to not revealing her full involvement in the transaction to the chairman, even though she knew he was looking for answers.
Also taking the stand today was Wight, who denied any knowledge surrounding the monies allegedly paid to Inniss.
In fact, he said after he became aware of the transactions on October 4, 2016, he sought a response from both Innes and Tasker, to no avail.
He said his queries came as a result of the finance department unearthing two payments in 2015 and 2016.
Wight said when he confronted Innes, she told him she was unaware of those transactions.
The CEO of BF&M said that company had no relationship with Donville Inniss or Crystal Dental Labs.
The case is being heard by Judge Kiyo Matsumoto.