This country’s reputation will take a big hit from yesterday’s conviction of Donville Inniss on money laundering charges.
That is the view of chairman of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) New York Sam Clarke who said it is possible that the US Government’s success in convicting Inniss may result in Barbados losing future financial investments.
A 12-member jury in the Eastern District Federal Court in New York on Thursday found Inniss, the former Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, guilty of laundering $16 536.73 on April 17, 2015 and $20 000 on April 18, 2016, through a US company Crystal Dental Lab, as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Inniss is expected to be sentenced in mid-February.
However, in an interview with Barbados TODAY, Clarke said the negative fallout for Barbados might be felt for a long time.
“This has put a stain on Barbados’ reputation as a country of rule and law and on the international banking and financial industry in Barbados. The EU [European Union], the US and the Canadian governments have been putting pressure on the various offshore entities, in terms of money laundering and so forth.
“Is this the first one? I don’t know. How did it happen? I don’t know, but it is telling that the person who has been accused of this crime is not a regular business person. It is a former minister of Government and that in itself does not bode well for the integrity of any government anywhere in the world,” Clarke said.
“This is going to take Barbados a long time to recover. If Barbados wants to recover from this quickly, Barbados has to be seen as doing what they are supposed to be doing in terms of conducting vigorous investigations, bringing the necessary laws in and really cleaning up its act. This is a real wake up call for Barbados.”
The chairman said it was important that the Barbados Government reassure the international business community by implementing measures to address the recent development.
He suggested that the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited (ICBL), which was at the centre of the bribery allegations, should be banned from doing business in Barbados.
As part of its case, the US Government named ICBL’s former chief executive officer Ingrid Inness and former senior vice-president Alex Tasker as having had a role in the scandal.
Clarke, who attended the three-day trial in Brooklyn, New York, maintained that a strong message had to be sent that Barbados was not accommodating corruption.
“I don’t think for one minute that this is a one-off situation. It is now incumbent on the necessary authorities in Barbados to do their due diligence and do what they have to do now because this is the first domino to drop.
“I don’t know if ICBL is still in the business and doing work in Barbados, but in any other law abiding country that corporation would not be allowed to do business with the Government or with anyone else in the country because the corporation’s structure is tainted. This is really a sad day in Barbados,” Clarke said.