British Virgin Islands

Saturday, Dec 04, 2021

Submit All Documents  – CoI Issues Ultimatum To Top Gov't Officials

Submit All Documents – CoI Issues Ultimatum To Top Gov't Officials

The Rt. Hon Sir Gary Hickinbottom Commissioner of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) has ordered three top government employees to submit certain critical documents to the CoI that were not provided despite earlier requests to do so.
The orders said these documents became critical following the appearances of Attorney General Dawn Smith, Financial Secretary Jeremiah Frett and Dr Carolyn O’Neal-Morton, the Permanent Secretary of the Premier’s Office, to be questioned by the Commissioner and his team.

The First Order, number 8 was for Dr. O’Neal-Morton.

It states that after she was summoned and upon “hearing the oral evidence of Dr O’Neal-Morton it is directed that Dr O’Neal-Morton shall, by 4 pm on Tuesday, May 25 2021: 1. Review the Letter of Request dated March 8 2021, addressed to the Premier and provide copies of all documentation/information/correspondence that has not yet been provided, including all appendices to those documents 2. All documentation/information/correspondence should be provided in native form and in correct order.”

The Second Order, number 9, was issued to Jeremiah Frett, the Financial Secretary.

His order states that upon hearing the oral evidence of Mr Jeremiah Frett it is directed Mr Frett shall, by 4 pm on Tuesday, May 25 2021: review the Letter of Request dated March 5 2021, addressed to the Minister of Finance and provide copies of all documentation/information/correspondence that has not yet been provided, including all appendices to those documents.

Further, the CoI order states that all documentation/information/correspondence should be provided in native form and in correct order.”

The Third Order, number 10 was issued to the AG

The AG had made a written submission dated May 19, 2021 on the role of the IRU, Cabinet minutes, the state of disclosure, Legal Professional Privilege and Public Interest Immunity applied for an adjournment of the directions hearing.

The AG's application for an adjournment of the directions hearing was refused. The Commissioner has directed by 4 pm on Monday, May 31 2021, all recipients of a Letter of Request to make an affidavit as to the completeness of the response to the Commission of Inquiry.

The AG was further ordered that by 4 pm on Monday, May 31, 2021, as the person instructed on behalf of the Government Ministers and departments, offices and other Government bodies for which they are all responsible as set out in the schedule to Order No.2, make an affidavit confirming whether or not she has satisfied herself that all reasonable efforts have been made to comply with the Letters of Request issued by the COI to Government Ministers and public officers whose interests she represents in the CoI and, if so, whether she is so satisfied

The AG has also up until 4 pm today, May 25, 2021, to confirm whether she intends to maintain Legal Professional Privilege and/or Public Interest Immunity with respect to any specified class of document which falls to be disclosed to the CoI and to identify that class or classes of document.”

Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie has said recently that the IRU has submitted over 85,000 documents to the UK-backed CoI to date. While the Premier has called for the hearing to be live-streamed, the CoI has indicated that it is the AG who represents the Premier and the Government that has requested that testimonies be held private. In addition, some transcripts which are posted on the CoI website are redacted.
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