Beautiful Virgin Islands

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2022

Customs boss hits back at detractors for ‘misrepresentation’

Customs boss hits back at detractors for ‘misrepresentation’

Customs Commissioner Wade Smith has accused his detractors of presenting alternative facts, following criticisms of his agency’s recent crackdown on companies that fell afoul of the territory’s maritime regulations.

Her Majesty’s Customs (HMC) fined several companies, including the popular Moorings and Sunsail hundreds of thousands of dollars in an operation that saw well over 100 boats being detained for various infractions.

In a statement issued yesterday, March 24, Smith said he has heard the criticisms about the detention of vessels that were operating without safety certificates and licenses and said he welcomed discussion with respect to the topic and any opposing views.

However, the Customs boss argued that even the most cursory research on this issue would dispel myths or overt misrepresentation that was being circulated.

“Unfortunately, too frequently in our territory objections are raised with no regard to any legitimate basis. In essence, people create their own ‘truth’, or as one American politician coined it, ‘alternative facts'”, Smith stated.

He added: “It is also a shameful reality that these hasty and spontaneous reacts are rooted in self-serving agendas, political ambition, or ignorance.”

Smith said that as head of Customs and the Joint Task Force, he recommends that everyone consider the foundational basis for his agency’s actions before regurgitating unsubstantiated information.

“Misrepresentation of the facts creates chaos and mistrust in our community,” Smith stated

Things could have been done differently

Smith attempted to dispel the argument that things could have been done differently by Customs.

“Some have argued that our application of the law could have been done differently. I have heard; ‘it should not have taken place in the Marina’. Others have lamented that it should not have been done during the tourist season,” he stated.

In response, he rhetorically asked if Customs as law enforcement officials should allow laws to be breached until it is convenient for the violator.

“Our laws are not directives of convenience, but ordinances created for the protection of the populace, with no regards to the imposed moment of ideal timing,” he argued.

“Our agency is not one that is created to operate at the whim and fancies of those who may have covert agendas, or those who might fear negative financial stresses because of our lawful action,” Smith added.


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