BVI News

COI expresses concern about gov’ts ‘parallel’ internal review

Attorney General Dawn Smith

The transcript for the first hearing of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) has been released and the document reveals that Attorney General (AG) Dawn Smith was asked to respond to a number of issues raised by counsel to the COI, Bilal Rawat.

The concern that appeared most worrying and contentious to the COI was the matter of a request by the government to carry out its own “objective internal review of all aspects of the governance of the Virgin Islands”.

An announcement of the government’s “parallel” review, as Rawat describes it, was made in a statement released in late April. The review is expected to be carried out by Queens Counsel (QC) Sir Geoffrey Cox, whose law firm the government has acquired to represent them in the Inquiry.

The concerns

The government’s review is quite likely to be done simultaneously with the Commission of Inquiry and, as a result, likely places the Inquiry’s outcome in question.

Rawat, the COI attorney, expressed concerns that the public has been given the “unequivocal impression” that it was the Attorney General who ordered the internal review. This is based on the fact that AG Smith — though acting on the government’s instruction at the time — was the actual person to ask Sir Geoffrey to conduct the review. 

“The Attorney General, as she eloquently explained, is the law officer for the whole of government. And that [role], under the Virgin Islands Constitution, includes the Governor. The BVI public may consider it a strange turn of events for the Governor to seek an internal review, having established this Commission of Inquiry [in the first place],” Rawat reasoned.

‘Very unhelpful indeed’

Meanwhile, COI Commissioner, Sir Gary Hickinbottom said it would be “very unhelpful indeed” if the report of government’s review were to be produced the same day as, or even a day after the COI’s report is released.

He stated: “The integrity and timing of the Commission of Inquiry, which is vital to me, is potentially adversely affected by some of these issues, and that is a great concern.”

In the meantime, Attorney Rawat noted that the internal review includes areas of government’s activity the COI have addressed. He further questioned the level of independence of the government’s review, as well as its terms of reference and its likely date of completion.

He also said that the Commission is likely to want to hear from Sir Geoffrey, given that his review is expected to reach conclusions on the governance of the BVI.

Questions about conflict of interest

“Will the conclusions of Sir Geoffrey’s review be published or otherwise put into the public domain?” Rawat asked the Attorney General.

He also asked AG Smith whether there was an inherent conflict of interest in her appearance in the matter.

The AG, while stating that she did not have advanced notice of the questions, agreed to submit her responses in writing at a later date.

Her responses have not yet been made public.

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25 Comments

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  1. Sir Geoffrey says:

    Feel free to share with the BVI public how much you charge us, the BVI, on a daily basis? I assume around $10,000 per day as minimum fee for a Queen’s Council…

    Like 45
    Dislike 3
    • Doh says:

      We are just so screwed.

      Missteps everywhere by our “leaders” will bring in 🇬🇧 rule. And it will be welcomed..

      Carry on

      Like 34
      Dislike 7
      • @Doh says:

        Speak/write for yourself. For all the years these lands, which were not owned legally by the Brit, they are where they are economically due to the hard work of local and Black expatriate. Now the greedy eyes are seeking to take, claim and control our money.

        That’s the truth. So carry on, but we got yah!

        Like 4
        Dislike 9
    • Yup says:

      The Belonger is not smart but he is devious. That’s the problem. The Belongers have been stealing and hiding money for years. They think they be smart but the Brits have been watching and waiting. The noose kept getting tighter and the floor begins to open. Now the Belonger is ready to drop but is screaming for anyone to help. When the results of the inquire become public they will trample over each other to avoid prosecution.

      Like 26
      Dislike 6
  2. Local Observer says:

    Can somebody please explain why the peoples tax money can be spent so freely by the same government that are being investigated. We paid them well to do the right thing on our behalf so why do we have to pay huge fees to defend them when they do the wrong things ???????

    Like 85
    Dislike 7
  3. Hmmmm says:

    Fahie will make all you all lose your good name and good character and some you all end up on the wrong side of the law and the wrong side of history….Do what you kno to be right…

    Like 40
    Dislike 3
  4. Open says:

    The government’s review is quite likely to be done simultaneously with the Commission of Inquiry and, as a result, likely places the Inquiry’s outcome in question.

    Does this mean the COI has an outcome before the Inquiry is complete.

    Like 3
    Dislike 30
  5. COI says:

    The British have a monopoly on righteousness.
    Them alone can be independent. Them alone can be honest. Everybody else is inferior.

    Like 15
    Dislike 43
  6. Good says:

    They think they come in, spend a ton of money, drink and eat good, put ogether an already concluded investigation and we sit back like fools and do nothing.

    Now they mad to find out, we ain’t stupid.

    Like 10
    Dislike 41
  7. Resident says:

    It’s reasonable for the elected government to use public funds to get external legal counsel to represent it at the C o I. It’s not reasonable for that external counsel to be paid from public funds to do a PR exercise to under mine whatever the C o I report says.

    There can be no parallel report because that parallel report will not have been convened under the Commissions of Enquiry Act with the powers conferred on the Chairman by that Act.

    Like 36
    Dislike 6
    • Really says:

      You might find it reasonable for our government to use public funds to get external legal counsel, I don’t. They do choose an Attorney General to represent the country so that Attorney General should also be good enough to represent them.

      Like 16
  8. Resident says:

    Can the honourable premier please tell us how much this “parallel ” inquiry will cost the tax payers of this country?

    Like 35
    Dislike 2
  9. Our goose is cooked says:

    One thing I know for sure is that we are done. Finished. When our Government is finished with us, we will be broke. Our little dot on the map will be a distant memory. I am sure by next election it will be all over. So now, what can we do? We had better call on Jesus in huge numbers each day to have mercy upon us for only Jesus can save us now.
    Jesus is stronger than Satan and sin. Let us remember that. It is obvious that our Premier is drunk on his own power and is determined to take down this ship of State and kill us all.

    Like 4
    Dislike 4
  10. Rastarite says:

    Absolutely absurd. The COI should be presented and examined under a microscope. Then the government can defend itself and its members if necessary. To have two simultaneous inquiries at the same time is nonsense. And who is paying??? The people of the BVI, of course. Outrageous!!

    Like 21
    Dislike 1
  11. Distraction says:

    What is Rat’s point? Rat sound like they creating distraction. The incompetence of the then governor himself should also be scrutinised and since this COI, which was requested by the same incompetent and fake Governor is already biased, then a parallel review should be welcomed! What is good for one is good for all. Struuupes.

    Like 3
    Dislike 14
    • So says:

      The Governor who approved and supports the COI in accordance with the constitution should also approve and support a review to review what he supported to proceed. The independent review is best left alone- lets get this place fixed properly. If there’s nothing to hide then there’s nothing to fear. And if it cones out clean then the territory would be shown in an exemplary way internationally. When the AG in her office you think any Ministry or Department going tell the post holder if they doing anything wrong. They ain’t going find nothing. Leave the COI proceed.

      Like 11
      Dislike 1
  12. VI says:

    Games being played.

  13. We Screwd says:

    So let me understand, the Gov have a COI going on the Premier. Now the Premier start his own COI on the Gov. You cant make this s**t up.

  14. Strategy says:

    The government is conducting its own review so that it can attempt to discredit the true COI report when it comes out and paint it as “racist” or “colonialist”. Keep an eye out for when this happens because I am telling you now this will occur.

    This is cynical and facile strategy, which pretty neatly sums up the thinking of our local leaders on most things.

    • @ Strategy says:

      Interesting observation.

    • Truth says:

      It will happen any day now. Those who know they are guilty have no defense for their corruption/crimes. They’ll use that excuse like a crutch in their attempt to avoid accountability.

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