Beautiful Virgin Islands

Thursday, May 26, 2022

CoI Report expected to be turned over to VI Gov't this week!

CoI Report expected to be turned over to VI Gov't this week!

The long-awaited Commission of Inquiry (CoI) report on the Virgin Islands (VI) initiated by the controversial former Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert has still not been turned over to the elected Government of Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1).

The current appointed United Kingdom Governor John J. Rankin, CMG, who has had the report since April 4, 2022, told the Territory he will turn it over after Easter, as he needed time to read it.

He also refused a request of the Cabinet last week to turn over a copy.

Senior sources in the Governor’s Office; however, told our news centre that the Governor is preparing a press statement and could deliver the report to Government as early as today Thursday, April 21, 2022.

A question emailed to the Governor’s Office on this matter went unanswered up to publication time.

Governor John J. Rankin, CMG, right, is expected to hand over the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) Report to Premier and Minister of Finance Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) this week.

Gus' final revenge?

Most residents believe the CoI was called by disgraced former Governor ‘Gus’ because there was push back on his violation of the Virgin Islands (VI) Constitution and his abuse of power while in office where he acted like he was elected. Some alleged he was a racist, after Mr Jaspert said in a media interview that all the remnants of chattel slavery should remain around the Territory and that the VI should not expect reparations.

It was reported that Mr Jaspert had returned to the VI from the UK in January 2021 on the same aircraft with the Commission of Inquiry Head Sir Gary R. Hickinbottom, who Mr Jaspert handpicked. This was the concern of one witness and was raised at the hearing by Complaints Commission Attorney Erica R. Smith-Penn as to the transparency of the process and whether the VI could have gotten a just outcome.

Many also said the CoI was a ‘kangaroo court’ since persons could not be cross-examined by their legal representation and there was much disrespect and hostility shown to the elected members of the House of Assembly. The CoI process also was controversial when it was discovered that three of its lawyers; Andrew King, Bilal M. Rawat and Rhea Harrikisson were working in the VI illegally, as they were not called to the BVI Bar.

CoI are lawbreakers

The Attorney General Dawn J. Smith, in written correspondence to a senior member of the BVI Bar, stated the UK lawyers were in violation of the Legal Professions Act 2015. This has cast a shadow over the Report.

In a surprise move last year, the UK indemnified those involved in the CoI, including the former and current Governors, the CoI attorneys, and any other UK nationals involved.

This means that both the current and former Governors, along with the CoI lawyers, cannot in their private capacity be held responsible or sued for damage to individuals’ names and companies or the country’s good name.


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