Beautiful Virgin Islands

I didn’t know of any corruption in my party — Dr Smith

I didn’t know of any corruption in my party — Dr Smith

Years ahead of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) which examined governance in the territory, the UK had asked former Premier Dr D Orlando Smith about corruption that may have been happening within his then-governing National Democratic Party.
According to the former Premier, he said he was unaware of any such corruption but said he understood the concerns that led to COI, given that many people in the territory were complaining to the UK government over the years that his party was the most corrupt government in the territory’s history.

Dr Smith told the Talking Points show that he was questioned about the issue by former Governor Augustus Jaspert when he served as Premier, even before Jaspert ever set foot in the territory.

“I met [Jaspert] before he came here, and the first question he asked me was, ‘what about this corruption in the BVI?’” Dr Smith said. “I was taken aback because I didn’t know of any corruption. I was not aware of any corruption in the party which I was a part of and of which I was leader.”

Dr Smith suggested that the adage ‘where there is smoke, there is fire’, as well as the reportedly contentious relationship between the then-Andrew Fahie led government and the former governor, may have contributed to the eventual call for the COI by Jaspert as he left these shores.

We had regular meetings

When asked how he was able to stave off a COI from happening under his watch, Dr Smith said regular meetings with the former governor and Cabinet meetings of which the governor is usually the Chair may have helped with avoiding it at that time.

“So, there is ample opportunity for discussions between the governor and the Premier to be able to resolve any issues that may arise,” Dr Smith said.

The COI ultimately found that there were urgent issues that needed to be addressed in the governance of the territory and proposed as its first and overarching recommendation that the territory’s constitution be suspended and UK rule be implemented through the governor.

The coalistion Government of National Unity — which was quickly assembled in the immediate aftermath of Fahie’s unrelated arrest for money laundering and drug smuggling in the United States — signed a document to implement governance reforms over a two-year period which saw that recommendation being stayed.

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