If Donville Inniss’s trial were taking place here, the charges would have been tosssed a long time ago, General Secretary of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Guyson Mayers has said.
As the trial of the former high-ranking DLP member began in New York yesterday, Mayers contended that under Barbadian laws, the elements of money laundering, the crime for which Inniss faces trial in the United States, could not be proven.
Inniss, who served in the Freundel Stuart administration as Minister of Commerce, is being tried on US federal charges of laundering $72,000 (US$36,000), allegedly taking bribes from former senior management of the Insurance Company of Barbados Limited.
But Mayers, an attorney-at-law, told Barbados TODAY that while he cannot speak for US law, the facts borne out in the public domain do not meet the Barbadian threshold for a crime.
Mayers said: “If Mr Inniss’ matter was to be tried on Barbadian law, by now it would have been ended because there is no case against him based on Barbadian law.
“I cannot speak with authority on what is happening in the United States of America, so I will wait until a decision is made before I can speak further.”
Mayers was speaking on the sidelines of a press conference to outline the DLP’s celebration plans for the centennial of the father of independence, Right Excellent Errol Barrow.
He added: “Based on what is in the public domain, I am not sure that the elements of a charge of money laundering, for which he [Inniss] now stands trial, would be satisfied, based on the four corners of our domestic legislation.
“However, I am aware that there are other issues that may be relevant where this case is concerned.”
DLP president Verla De Peiza said she opted for a wait-and -ee approach but cautioned Barbadians to reserve judgement until both sides have been fully ventilated in court.
She said: “As a defense attorney I can tell you that day one is not the day to be evaluating the outcome of any matter.
“From what I have read, the evidence has been laid but there has been no real cross examination as yet.
“So we don’t know at this stage what will be the true extent of the testimony before the court.
“At the moment we are only hearing one side at this point in time but just like the rest of Barbados we are following it very closely.”
The DLP leader insisted that regardless of the trial’s outcome, the party will maintain zero tolerance for corruption of any kind in high office.
De Peiza told Barbados TODAY: “What we have always said from the beginning is that we eschew any shade of disrespect to our electoral system and abuse of power.
“So like everyone else we are watching this matter very closely.”
Inniss has been accused of accepting bribes from ICBL in 2015 and 2016 while he was Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development.
The US alleges that ICBL paid him $36,000 to use his authority to ensure that the firm’s million-dollar contract with the state-owned Barbados Industrial Development Corporation (BIDC) was renewed.
The US Attorney’s Office alleged that he conspired to hide the payment by having the money sent to a New York dental company, then deposited into his bank account through a series of transfers.