British Virgin Islands

Wednesday, Aug 04, 2021

Rymer Didn’t Declare Interest Until Six Months Later; Smith Declared On Time

Rymer Didn’t Declare Interest Until Six Months Later; Smith Declared On Time

Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly Hon. Neville Smith told the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) that, unlike his colleagues, he was aware of his obligations to declare his interests on the same day he was sworn in following his 2019 win at the polls.

He was also aware that on the anniversary date of March 12 until another election is called, he must submit his interests to the Registrar of Interest as per the Register of Interest Act.

Counsel to the Commission Mr. Balil Rawat asked him on Tuesday, June 15: “Was that your understanding from the very beginning that that was the obligation that was placed on you as a member of the House of Assembly?"

He replied: “yes, commissioner.”

Mr. Rawat continued: “And did that understanding from the information provided to you by the Registrar of Interest?

He replied: “Yes, Commissioner.”

Mr. Rawat: “Were you also aware that if you didn’t submit by the due date, the 12th of March, you would be in breach of the Register of Interest Act?”

Again he replied: “Yes, Commissioner.”

Mr. Rawat asked him: “But also, if you took more than three months to send in your declaration, that would be another breach of the Act?

“Yes, Commissioner,” was his response.

He also confirmed that he was aware that if he did not comply, the Registrar would have to write to a Select Committee, which is the Standing Committee of which he is a sitting member.

Rymer Late By Six months

In the meantime, when Mr. Rawat posed similar questions to Minister for Transportation, Works and Utilities Hon. Kye Rymer he had a different response.

Mr. Rawat asked him if he was aware that this was an obligation from the time that he was sworn in, he replied: “I can’t remember if I was aware at the time,” he said.

He was asked if he recalls receiving the document from the Registar of Interest on or about the day he was sworn in.

“I cant remember, so I can't confirm,” he replied.

Mr. Rawat asked him, “Although the obligation is on you on the 12th of March 2019, you were out by over six months, weren’t you?”

He only declared his interests on the 25th of September 2019.

Hon. Rymer replied: “Yes, I was out about six months, and that is because prior to elections, I made declarations, and after the election, nothing changed. So it may not have been a priority in terms of making this declaration.”

He said he also had some concerns with the form in terms of the information requested and “during that time, quite ambitious in terms of getting the job done for the people of the territory I may have neglected to complete the form."

He added, “But based on the reason for the Register of Interest Act is for us to declare any interest and I know nothing changed pre-election and after the election in terms of any businesses that I own and any interest that I have.”

His other Ministerial colleagues, Hon. Sharie de Castro, Junior Minister for Tourism and Junior Minister for Trade and Economic Development Hon. Shereen Flax Charles, were also late by roughly four months in declaring their interests.


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