Beautiful Virgin Islands

Sunday, Jul 03, 2022

UK spent under £3 million for COI - UK will get from the COI the Islands control in return.

UK spent under £3 million for COI - UK will get from the COI the Islands control in return.

Governor John Rankin has revealed that the United Kingdom (UK) government spent just under £3 million to cover its costs associated with the Commission of Inquiry (COI).
The sum expended is in stark contrast to the more than $8 million spent by the BVI government thus far to cover its costs associated with the inquiry.

In a recent interview with 284 Media, Governor Rankin said the figure paid by the UK government covered the core costs for the COI, including the Commissioner and his staff as well as equipment used.

The governor explained that the funds expended by the UK did not cover the $44,000 in legal fees for his appearance before the COI when he was being cross-examined by Sir Geoffrey Cox on behalf of the Attorney General.

Previously, the Governor’s Office had explained that the UK was funding the core costs because it was the UK’s responsibility to support the security and good governance of BVI and other overseas territories.

In the meantime, the BVI government said monies spent to cover its costs included public relations, security and legal defence costs to the government.

Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley recently disclosed that the bulk of the government’s expense was put towards legal representation provided by the law firm, Withers LLP.

According to the COI report, however, those expenses did not cover appearances by “any public officer whose evidence might not accord with the position of the elected ministers”.

Preeminent among those persons left out were the Registrar of Interests, the Auditor General and the Internal Audit Department Director, the report stated.

The COI, which started in January 2021 was initially mandated for six months, but was given two further extensions. Hearings finally came to an end in November last year.

The Inquiry’s purpose was to establish whether there was evidence of corruption, abuse of office or other serious dishonesty had taken place in public office in recent years, and if so, what conditions allowed this to happen.

The report from the COI submitted to the governor and released to the public at the end of April this year determined that it was “impossible” to conclude there was no serious dishonesty in government. The report further said it would be “frankly surprising” if there was no corruption given the failings in governance.
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