British Virgin Islands

Tuesday, Aug 11, 2020

Walwyn ESHS wall investigation heading to DPP Office - CoP Matthews

Commissioner of Police (CoP) at the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF), Mr Michael B. Matthews says the investigation into the $1.6M Elmore Stoutt High School (ESHS) wall project commissioned by Myron V. Walwyn in 2016-while serving as Minister of Education under the National Democratic Party-has been completed and is now heading to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for further action.

"The Investigation into the Elmore Stoutt High School (ESHS) Wall... has reached a stage where a file is going to the Director of Public Prosecutions," CoP Matthews said on public radio ZBVI 780AM today, January 14, 2020, during a live episode of the 'Honestly Speaking' radio show moderated by Mr Claude O. Skelton-Cline.

'I don't make the charging decision' - CoP Matthews

"Obviously, I don't make the charging decisions, that is an independent authority of the DPP's Office, but they will be presented with the evidence that we've accrued throughout our investigation."

The Top CoP continued, "I will await to see what decisions they make about whether they feel there is sufficient evidence for a criminal prosecution," he said.

When grilled, CoP Matthews refused to say whether the existing evidence suffices criminal prosecution at the DPP office, however, said there are several unanswered questions about the wall project from his personal perspective.

"That's not my privilege to state that [possible charges], I've read the evidence, I've looked at the evidence, and for me, there are quite clearly questions to be answered,' he said.

It should be noted that this is not the first investigation into the ESHS wall. A previous report from Auditor General (AG) Ms Sonia M. Webster stated that the wall project broke financial laws, there was no value for money and persons were paid but work was not completed.

'Project broke Financial laws' - AG Webster

Amidst controversy and a leak to the press, the report was then handed to the Governor of the Virgin Islands, Mr Augustus J.U. Jaspert who then handed it over to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF). Official criminal investigations then commenced.

Ms Webster also listed a trail of alleged corruption surrounding the controversial project from start to finish. CoP Mathews, in July 2019, had stated that close to 100 persons were investigated as part of the RVIPF probe.

"This isn't going to be an overnight investigating, nor should it be, because we have to be thorough. We have to make sure that if we are going to reach a point in time where we are going to arrest and charge people, that we've done the groundwork properly," he said.

In February 2019, Mr Walwyn, who was regarded as one of the most controversial and divisive personalities in Virgin Islands (VI) politics, was brutally ousted by voters in the 2019 elections after serving two terms [2011-2019] in office.


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