British Virgin Islands

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

Gov't Moves To Give CoI Access To Legislators' Business Interests

Gov't Moves To Give CoI Access To Legislators' Business Interests

The Hon. Andrew Fahie-led Government intends to provide the United Kingdom's Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into corruption in the BVI unfettered access to information on Legislators' business interests which is usually not open to the public.
The information is held by the Registrar of Interests. It is unclear whether legislators have been declaring their business dealings since there is no media and public scrutiny of the register. However, in a statement issued by the Government, it was indicated that the plan is to amend the laws to enable the CoI to access the register.

"In line with our promise to the people of the Virgin Islands, the Government of the Virgin Islands during the upcoming Sitting of the House of Assembly will seek to amend Section 9 of the Register of Interests Act to remove any barriers that could prevent Members from sharing information held by the Registrar of Interests. This course of action will assist the COI to ascertain such information without any legal impediments," the Government indicated.

The Government will be seeking to amend the Register of Interests Act by inserting an additional circumstance in which the Register of Interests may be open for inspection, namely at the written request of a Commissioner of Inquiry.

"The amendment would further permit the Registrar of Interests to provide the Commissioner of the COI with a copy of pages from the Register of Interests. It is important to note that amending the Register of Interests Act is something your Government sees as essential because we believe in the spirit of cooperation and transparency at all levels. As a responsible Government, we see the need for this amendment to the Register of Interests Act," the statement indicated.

The Government stated that it believes that it is important to cooperate and engage the Commission consistent with its stated policy of transparency.

"The Government will continue to do its part to foster a transparent Commission of Inquiry to allow for a just outcome," the statement noted.

On January 19, former Governor Augustus Jaspert, appointed Sir Gary Hickinbottom, to hold a COI, to inquire into whether corruption, abuse of office or other serious dishonesty in relation to officials, whether statutory, elected or public may have taken place in recent years.

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