Beautiful Virgin Islands

Sunday, Jul 03, 2022

We have found Hon Fahie ‘guilty without hearing a word from him’- VI Lawyer

We have found Hon Fahie ‘guilty without hearing a word from him’- VI Lawyer

Local attorney Richard G. Rowe has pointed to the double standard and insularity regarding the condemnation of former Premier Andrew A. Fahie (R1) and others by persons in the Virgin Islands.

According to Mr Rowe, persons were willing to give a free pass to the United Kingdom (UK) lawyers working in the Virgin Islands (VI) for the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) without being called to the bar and not having a work permit.

Hon Fahie was arrested on April 28, 2022, in Miami on drug and money laundering charges based on an affidavits by an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent.

He has since been stripped of his title of Premier.

Local attorney Richard G. Rowe has pointed to the double standard and insularity regarding the condemnation of former Premier Andrew A. Fahie (R1) and other persons in the Virgin Islands by persons in the Virgin Islands but were wiling to give a free pass to the United Kingdom (UK) lawyers working in the Virgin Islands (VI) for the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) without being called to the bar and not having a work permit.


Never seen a parent abandon her child on criminal charges- Rowe


“We have a premier, an ex-premier, who is charged for alleged offences, and it appears certainly, contrary to the rule of law, that we have all found him guilty already without having heard a word from him,” Mr Rowe pointed out while a guest of the radio show PSI TV with host Kenneth G. Gladstone on May 16, 2022.

Mr Rowe added that he has been practising law since 1979, mainly in the criminal courts, and he can’t recall any mother who has abandoned her child because that child was charged with a criminal offence.

“But here we are, purportedly under the rule of law, on the basis of solely an affidavits of an informant.”

Who to trust?


Meanwhile, Mr Rowe says he views even the DEA with “great suspicion’ due to past experiences.

According to the veteran attorney, he was approached by DEA agents while practicing law in Jamaica who asked him to represent certain alleged drug dealers on the condition that “they [DEA agents] must receive a part of my pay and that I cannot exercise all the rights for that person charged. In other words, they must be found guilty.”

Staff of Premier’s Office ‘condemned as criminals’


He said similarly he has noted that staff of the Premier’s Office, particularly the Permanent Secretary, have already been condemned as criminals.

Governor John J. Rankin, CMG announced on May 12, 2022, that a criminal investigation into the conduct of the Premier’s Office has been launched.

He said the investigation was launched over the alleged obstruction of the Director of the Internal Audit Department in respect of her audit of the COVID-19 Assistance Programmes, as stated in the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) Report.

As a result, the Permanent Secretary was sent on leave.

“So I look with great suspicion…when anyone under the pay of an agency will make allegations which are yet to be proved as true that we have, under this rule of law, condemned his office and his staff, the Permanent Secretary, as if she is a criminal, to a criminal investigation and put on leave when it is not a crime,” Mr Rowe said.

CoI has painted local leaders as criminals- Rowe


He also opined that the CoI report has "overtly painted" local leaders like Myron V. Walwyn and Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3), as criminals.

Based on the recommendation of the CoI Report, the Governor has instructed criminal investigations into the ESHS Wall Project, which was done during the tenure of former Education Minister Mr Walwyn and the Sea Cows Bay Harbour Project, which was during the tenure of former Works Minister Hon Fraser.

According to Mr Rowe, the evidence so far, which includes engineering documents, shows there was no criminality involved in the projects.

Governor John J. Rankin CMG, left, along with two CoI lawyers, Andrew King, centre, and Bilal M. Rawat, right, who were accused of practising law in the territory while not being called to the BVI Bar, a violation of the Legal Professions Act 2015.


Double-standards?


Meanwhile, three CoI Lawyers were accused of practicing law in the Virgin Islands (VI) for some five months before filing an application to be called to be the BVI Bar.

Attorney General, Hon Dawn J. Smith has said, “the law is clear,” and that the three lawyers “should be admitted to practice in the VI if they are to perform duties as counsel and solicitors to the CoI established under the Commission of Inquiry Act.”

On November 22, 2021; however, the United Kingdom House of Commons sought to shield the Commissioner of Inquiry (CoI) Attorneys, the Commissioner himself and the local Governor John J. Rankin, CMG from paying any legal fees out of pocket if they are sued over the CoI.

In the VI, some residents staged a small protest claiming that the then Speaker Julian Willock must pay out of pocket as a British Judge Adrian Jack ordered amidst controversy.

Mr Willock had filed an injunction against the CoI lawyers but subsequently discontinued it.

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