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Thursday, Feb 02, 2023

BVI Premier Fahie Confident of Commission of Inquiry Vindication

BVI Premier Fahie Confident of Commission of Inquiry Vindication

Premier of the British Virgin Islands Hon. Andrew Fahie is confident that he would be vindicated when the ruling of the Commission of Inquiry is handed down in January.
Premier Fahie, who has been accused by former Governor, Augustus Jaspert of widespread corruption, has vehemently denied the allegation. As a result of Jaspert’s revelation, a sanctioned United Kingdom commission of inquiry was established earlier this year.

The accusations ranged from mismanagement of the British Overseas Territory’s affairs, organized crime, and drug-trafficking.

However, from the onset, Premier Fahie, who is also the finance minister of the BVI, has, in no uncertain terms, rubbished the charges as unfounded and irresponsible.

He asserted that the former British Government representative was careless to have leveled such character-damaging claims, even while failing to use his powers get to the root of the very thing he accused his administration of doing.

Fahie believes that it was a sinister move for Jaspert to scurry to the media to spread what he termed as propaganda, before making an effort to dig into the allegations to prove whether or not they were genuine.

Fahie, as a matter of fact, believes it was the former governor who blatantly displayed scant regard towards fiduciary duties by opening a resource-burdensome commission of inquiry without first considering the debilitating impact it would have on the civil service.

"It poses a heavy challenge on the public officers," Fahie told Politico, further outlining to the publication that the probe's scope has widened to cover virtually every government decision of the past decade. He also accused the British Government of gross overreach.

He said the commission of inquiry all but consumed the entire public service, while yet to prove the existence of government corruption.

The premier elicited that it came as no surprise to him that to date, no specific proof or indication of BVI’s officials’ involvement in such activities has emerged in the public evidence sessions.

Some members of the BVI community, based on the terms of reference of the commission of inquiry, have openly expressed concern that the inquiry commission might recommend a colonial-style power takeover. This they say might mean imposing direct rule from London and husking the territory of its autonomy, which include the right to elect its own government.

The fear is reminiscent of fellow UK overseas territory – the Turks and Caicos Islands - being yanked of its internal powers when it’s constitution was pulled on recommendation of a commission of inquiry. That territory has gone back to internal self-government after a raft of changes by the British.

The UK, in 2009, instituted direct rule on the Turks and Caicos Islands, though the governor, accusing the then government of "a high probability of systematic corruption or serious dishonesty," including receiving kickbacks from investors.

Some members of the BVI community have accused Jaspert of sliding into obscurity after making what they described as such destructive allegations and was now being shielded by the British Government from setting the record straight.

Such sentiment was shared by the premier, who, in an interview with the Guardian, accused Jaspert of not assessing the potential damage his utterance would cause to the people of the territory.

“I find that statement very irresponsible. It is clear from the inquiry there is no evidence to back up what he is saying, and it would be interesting to see if he would be willing to say that outside the protection of the inquiry as a private citizen. In saying that, he did not bear in mind the reputation of the BVI, families, the economy,” Fahie said.

He added: “The key to any country is its reputation, but so far, and thank God for that, there is no evidence provided in the Commission of Inquiry showing that the BVI is corrupt. We have provided them with over 200,000 papers.”

In the meantime, the premier and his government have found an ally in Tory MP and former attorney general, Sir Geoffrey Cox, who, during the Commission of Inquiry, decided to represent the ministers. Sir Cox’s decision to represent the government was not without controversy, as he was brutally criticized by some of his UK Parliamentary colleagues for landing a second job.

But the BVI premier had defended the UK parliamentarian’s decision. According to the Guardian, Fahie praised Cox and his legal team for doing what he described as a great job, asserting that he and his fellow BVI ministers would be rendered blameless.

“Lie has speed, but truth has endurance,” the online newspaper quoted the premier as saying.
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