Beautiful Virgin Islands

Thursday, Jun 30, 2022

Attorney General's Claims Of No Criminal Conduct By Public Officials Unfounded - CoI Report

Attorney General's Claims Of No Criminal Conduct By Public Officials Unfounded - CoI Report

Commissioner Sir Gary Hickinbottom who conducted and compiled the Commission of Inquiry report into allegations of public sector corruption is adamant that he was unable to accept Hon. Dawn Smith, the Attorney General's assertions on the failings of public and elected officials.
Hon. Smith had informed the CoI, “In my view, a number of areas upon which the [COI] has focused such as Statutory Boards, Belongership, Crown Lands and Contracts are all areas in which there has been a failure in policymaking. However, I have not yet seen evidence of dishonesty, venality or ill-intent in these areas, and I believe that such problems as have been identified in the evidence could have been avoided through carefully thought-out and implemented policies”.

Commissioner Hickinbottom asserts that the issues occurring within the public sector are as a result of the lack of policy agendas in the first place rather than lack of having policies formulated or implemented.

He also suggested that in relation to the Attorney General’s claim about not seeing evidence of dishonesty, she failed to indicate the areas she has scrutinised. He also revealed that criminal investigations concerning the School Wall Project and BVI Airways are currently being undertaken, which also involves inquiries into some public officials.

In addition, he mentioned that, “I have set out in this Report findings relating to information that has been provided to me that serious dishonesty in relation to public officials may have taken place.” Regardless, Commissioner Hickinbottom proposes that the Attorney General’s assertion that no public officials were engaged in criminal conduct, was unfounded.

The CoI report goes on to mention that elected public officials have ignored warnings from auditors that inadequate integrity mechanisms have facilitated dishonesty by those who may benefit from their decisions, which have negatively impacted on the public interest.

However, despite the pervasive accountability issues, Commissioner Hickinbottom submits that there have been no substantive justifications offered by the public officials in question. The issue is evidently entrenched and he notes that “the conduct has been more or less across the board, and from administration to administration. It is continuing, has worsened and, I have found, is likely to continue indefinitely as things stand”.

He also concludes that in relation to particular governmental initiatives, like projects and schemes, that the incidences of poor governance are deliberate, and public officials are aware of the issues, and their related consequences.

Related Articles

Beautiful Virgin Islands