BY GEORGE ALLEYNE
American authorities have unsealed documents naming former Barbados insurance executives, Alex Tasker and Ingrid Inness as the persons who allegedly conspired with former government minister Donville Inniss to launder money in the United States.
Revelation of the names of Tasker, a former senior vice-president of Insurance Corporation of Barbados, and Inness, a former ICBL CEO ended months of speculation by Barbadians who were the persons alleged to have bribed Donville Inniss for him to renew a government insurance policy.
Tasker is Barbadian and Inness, a Canadian resident in Barbados.
The former minister, who is expected to go on trial in a Brooklyn federal court from June 24, was in August arrested in Florida and charged with one count of conspiracy to launder money and two counts of money laundering.
Placed on $50,000 he was brought to New York for a further federal court hearing when he was made to deposit his passport with federal authorities and had an electronic monitoring bracelet placed on his ankle.
The US Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York stated, “the charges stem from Inniss’ acceptance of bribes from a Barbadian insurance company in 2015 and 2016 when he was a public official.”
He is alleged to have conspired with persons in a Barbados company, ICBL, to pay him $36,000 to use his authority to ensure that the firm’s million-dollar contract with a state-owned company under Inniss’ ministerial portfolio is renewed.
The US Attorney’s Office alleges that he 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.
Inniss has had three court appearances before a date for trial was set for June, but throughout the time US authorities had not revealed the names of the alleged co-conspirators, until late January.
Tasker and Inness are still in Barbados and there is not yet any information on whether and when the US government will apply to its Barbadian counterpart for extradition of the two to face trial in New York, along with Inniss.
According to the US Attorney’s Office, the insurance company officials conspired to have a Bermuda based firm that owns the Barbados insurance business to forward payments to a New York dental firm, which then sent on the monies to a bank accountant in the name of Inniss.
It is alleged that the Barbados officials had indicated to the Bermuda parent company that the money was owed to the dental office for consulting services.
BF&M of Bermuda is the majority owner of ICBL, having bought majority shares from the government of Barbados for $25.85 million in November 2005 and now owns a 51.7 percent stake in the company through its wholly owned subsidiary, Hamilton Financial Ltd, which is based in St. Lucia.
Established in 1978 as a statutory corporation and subsequently privatized in December 2000, ICBL boasts 2,300 shareholders inclusive of institutional investors and individuals representing 48.3 percent of the company’s ownership.
Inness had suddenly resigned from her ICBL job in 2017 with no explanation offered.
It is unclear when Tasker left the firm.
Tasker was in October appointed executive chairman of Digicel Barbados, the island’s second largest telecommunications services provider.
The US government has already signalled its intention to seek forfeiture of property of any of the trio once convicted.