By Kamal Haynes, BVI News Staff
Premier Andrew Fahie has revealed that the two aircraft associated with the botched BVI Airways deal under the previous NDP administration have been found and are presently operating in Australia.
Premier Fahie made the announcement in the House of Assembly on Tuesday (February 25), and said investigations uncovered that the two planes, which were previously owned by BVI Airways, were eventually sold twice — first to a company in Canada and then to another company in Australia.
He said his government had continued to retain the services of Martin Kenny and Co Solicitors (MKS) – a law firm that handles fraud and asset recovery cases – upon entering office in February 2019.
They were initially hired by the NDP administration to determine why the BVI Airways deal failed, what had happened to the $7.2 million of public funds that government gave to the airline, and to identify a viable way to recover these lost funds.
“In July 2019 MKS delivered a report, setting out the firm’s interim findings and conclusions. In the course of MKS’s investigation, the firm determined that the two BAE Avro Airplanes acquired in 2016 by BVA for the project was sold to the original supplier of the planes, Tronos Jet of Prince Edward Island, Canada,” Premier Fahie stated.
“These planes appeared to have been resold in the market and are now being flown by operators based in Missoula Montana and Australia,” he added.
Government being sued and are counter suing
Premier Fahie further revealed that as a result of the investigation, BVI Airways filed a claim against the government of the Virgin Islands in June 2019, before the American Arbitration Association in New York.
He said: “This claim seeks an unidentified sum of damages. It is based on allegations which the government strongly refutes. In response, the government has instructed MKS to file a defence and counterclaim seeking an award of $7.2 million against BVI Airways.”
“However, the arbitration proceedings have been placed on hold while the parties comply with the relevant terms of the framework agreement to attempt to compromise the dispute, by way of mediation,” Premier Fahie further explained.
According to the Premier, his government cannot reveal any further details on the matter at this time because of the confidential nature of the mediation process.
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