On January 19, 2021 the former controversial Governor, Augustus J. U. Jaspert, appointed Sir Gary R. Hickinbottom to hold a Commission of Inquiry 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.”
In a statement on March 2, 2021, Government said in keeping its promise to the people of the Virgin Islands that it would cooperate with a transparent and accountable CoI, it would during the Sitting of the House of Assembly (HoA) on March 4, 2021, seek to amend Section 9 of the Register of Interests Act, 2006 to remove any barriers that could prevent Members from sharing information held by the Registrar of Interests.
It said this course of action will assist the COI to ascertain such information without any legal impediments.
“We 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, according to Government, 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 Government of the Virgin Islands further said 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 concluded.