British Virgin Islands

Wednesday, Jul 28, 2021

CoI announcement created a ‘crisis’ for VI – Hon Wheatley

While affirming his commitment to cooperating with the Virgin Islands (VI) Commission of Inquiry, Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Hon Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) said the inquiry has created a crisis for the VI, while questioning its true intentions.

Hon Wheatley, who was speaking at the Sixth Sitting of the Third Session of the Fourth House of Assembly (HoA) at the Save the Seed Energy Centre in Duff's Bottom, Tortola on March 4, 2021, said inquiries can also be used for good outcomes or for nefarious purposes.

Crisis in VI

On January 18, 2021, a Commission of Inquiry on governance in the VI was announced by ex-governor Governor Augustus J.U. Jaspert; however, the democratically elected Government of Premier Andrew A. Fahie (R1) was not made purview to the plans ahead of the announcement.

This meant that both Government and Financial Services, whose success relies on the territory's good reputation, were caught off guard and unable to respond in a timely manner to counter the negative international press that the UK Government and the UK media collaborated on.

“To go and announce the inquiry in the manner at which it happened, it has created for the territory a crisis and we cannot deny the crisis because of the announcement of the inquiry,” he said.

Regional body CARICOM, in a February 26, 2021 communiqué, also expressed its concerns at the manner in which Mr Jaspert announced the CoI.

“The Heads of Government are dismayed at the manner in which the COI was established with no consultation, or prior communication, between the United Kingdom Government and the duly-elected government of the British Virgin Islands.”

Unsure of where CoI will lead – Hon Wheatley

“A lot of times when we see reports about various things for our development, they can be called commissions too, because a commission can sometimes lead to variable outcomes if that’s the intention.”

He said despite the concerns, Government will cooperate fully as exemplified by the move to amend the Register of Interest Act to give the Commissioner access to information on assets held by elected HoA members.

“It's not the first inquiry and I can almost guarantee you it won't be the last, the history is there to see what happened in the past and why,” Hon Wheatley said.


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