Former senior manager at the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Ltd. (ICBL) Alex Tasker, who is fighting extradition, claims that the US government’s money laundering case against him is “based on lies” from then chief financial officer Kamante Millar.
Addressing Chief Magistrate Ian Weekes who is to determine on Wednesday September 8, whether he should or should not be committed for surrender to United States authorities, Tasker declared that Millar’s testimony to the US court was filled with “untruths”.
The United States wants Tasker extradited to stand trial for money laundering in the cash-for-coverage scandal involving former Government minister Donville Inniss.
US prosecutors allege that between August 2015 and April 2016 Tasker conspired with others to launder money in the US from outside the country in violation of US law.
In an unsworn statement before the Chief Magistrate Tasker denied that he conspired to launder money.
“I did not launder money,” he declared as he read from a prepared speech.
He told the court he had been employed as the senior vice president of business development and marketing at ICBL since 2014 with specific duties to increase business opportunities, drive sales as well as improve the company’s public profile through marketing campaigns. These duties he disclosed allowed him to interact directly with Members of Parliament, Permanent Secretaries and other top officials.
However he said his position was not above that of Millar.
“In her testimony, Ms. Millar stated that I was third in line on the senior management team after the CEO and Deputy CEO. That is not the truth.
“Ms. Millar misrepresented the truth to suggest that she received instructions from me as her senior. I was never in a position to instruct Ms. Millar to carry out any function and I never did. In the company, the positions of CEO, Deputy CEO and CFO were my seniors,” he added.
Tasker also mentioned an August 2015 meeting which he attended and at which Inniss was discussed.
“What she omitted in her testimony was the fact that Mr. Inniss had produced an invoice in Barbados dollars payable to his charity,” he revealed, adding that the invoice was given to him, since he was Inniss’ friend, to pass on for payment and he delivered it to the CEO’s office. “It must be noted that the company has a history of making charitable payments to Members of Parliament,” he further disclosed.
He added: “It was Ms. Millar who failed to admit that she was the one who informed the meeting that she would prefer if the whole matter was dealt with in US currency and that she requested that Mr. Inniss provide a US bank account and submit an invoice in US currency.”
Inniss was told of the request, Tasker disclosed, and the invoice resubmitted but he and Millar “never discussed it” nor did they have a conversation about Inniss needing money for his son’s tuition neither did he speak to Inniss on such a matter.
“I had no idea why the invoice was sent under the name of Crystal Dental Lab. Ms. Millar lied when she stated that she asked me several questions about the sheet of paper, like what’s Crystal Dental Lab, how much is the referral bonus and which Bank of America? I never had such a discussion with Ms. Millar,” he said and stated that the former CFO also “omitted to state” that she had sent him an email asking how much was ICBL’s share of the premium, and which he told her he didn’t know.
“It must be noted that it was never my responsibility to calculate premiums. At no time did I calculate any premiums, rates or percentages. Any information I would have passed on to Ms. Millar in this regard would have been requested via the Broker Unit and the Deputy CEO. I had no authority to pay out money from ICBL and never did anything of the kind. This authority rested with the CFO, CEO and Deputy CEO.”
The former executive further disclosed that he and Inniss had been friends for a long time and had several communications by both email and text messaging.
“In my opinion, I was carrying out my duties. I did not conspire to launder money and I did not launder money. In all my working life I have never received any benefit through laundering money.
“Ms. Millar lied to the US court. There are other instances of untruths in her testimony,” he added.
In his submission, Tasker’s attorney Andrew Pilgrim Q.C. urged the court to scrutinize Millar’s evidence and to find her “wanting” as she was a witness “who by any standards was tainted”.
He said: “We are urging this court to rule that it should be more than the bold allegations coming from a witness who is a self-prescribed fraud and who is deeper in the conspiracy . . .”
However, Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Alliston Seale said the defence’s utterances were not for the Chief Magistrate to consider but for a jury.
Seale maintained that at this stage the court was at the extradition proceedings and the documents submitted were sufficient to at least establish a prima facie case.
“Mr Tasker, should be committed for surrender,” the prosecutor submitted.