Thursday, February 29, 2024

Inniss loses appeal of bribe laundering conviction

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Ex-Government Minister Donville Inniss has lost an appeal to overturn a U.S. conviction for laundering bribes connected to insurance contracts through a New York business.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Wednesday rejected arguments from Inniss, against his 2020 conviction on three money-laundering-related counts for moving bribe money through the bank account of his friend’s dental business.

Inniss was found guilty in connection with the receipt of $36,000 in bribes from Insurance Corporation of Barbados Ltd., paid in 2015 and 2016 to induce him to steer government work to the company. The money was first sent to a friend’s Long Island, N.Y.-based dental company, then transferred to him. He was sentenced in 2021 to two years in prison.

Though Inniss contested the charges at trial, on appeal his lawyer didn’t argue over whether the bribery occurred. Instead, he tried to argue that the conduct wasn’t technically money laundering because Mr. Inniss didn’t launder the money after it was sent from the dental business.

Inniss’s lawyer later conceded that case law for New York rejects that type of defense to a money-laundering charge, but urged the appeals court to reconsider. The court said the law is clear.

“The government did not have to prove that Inniss laundered the proceeds of the bribes after receiving them to convict him,” the Second Circuit said in a six-page decision.

The appeals court also rejected arguments from  Inniss that the jury instructions were faulty.

A spokesman for prosecutors declined to comment on the decision. Inniss’s lawyer didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which criminalizes foreign bribery, doesn’t permit prosecutors to charge foreign officials, but in recent years the U.S. Justice Department has used money-laundering laws to target corrupt foreign officials who move their money through the U.S.

Inniss is incarcerated in a prison outside Detroit and scheduled to be released in January, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons records. (WSJ)

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