The British Virgin Islands government has declared that it does not own any shares in BVI Airways.
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando Smith made the declaration this month in the House of Assembly while he responded to questions from Leader of the Opposition Andrew Fahie.
“The current agreement that the BVI government has with BVI Airways, that is to provide a subsidy over a specific timeline and subject to certain conditions, is not one of ownership,” he said.
Smith’s government recently pumped $7 million into BVI Airways in order for it to purchase two planes and operate non-stop service between the BVI and Miami in the United States.
Premier Smith noted that BVI Airways is owned by another entity called Colchester Aviation, which also owns an outfit known as Raptor Aviation.
“Colchester Aviation, which is a principal of BVI Airways, owns the two aircraft that were acquired for this service through a wholly owned subsidiary Raptor Aviation. The private business venture has been organised in a fairly traditional structure within the industry.”
“As indicated in my response to a similar question and supported by the registration document which was circulated in September during the Second Sitting of the House, BVI Airways is the registered owner of the aircraft in the BVI, however, the aircrafts are being leased by Raptor Aviation,” Premier Smith said while the Opposition leader apparently struggled to grasp the technicalities.
Meanwhile, when asked to name each shareholder in BVI Airways, Premier Smith directed the Opposition leader to the website of the US Department of Transportation (DOT), which conditionally approved BVI Airways’ application to fly between BVI and Miami.
The DOT website said: “The record indicates that approximately 51 percent of the applicant’s (BVI Airways) reported shares is collectively held by Pauline Elizabeth Jones (31.0 percent) and Bradley David Goggin (20.0 percent) – both of whom are citizens of the United Kingdom and residents of the British Virgin Islands.”
“The applicant (BVI Airways) states that the remaining 49 percent of its shares is held by Colchester Aviation, LLC – a United States company. Regarding the control of the applicant, its President/CEO is a United States citizen. The remainder of its named directors and key management personnel are comprised primarily of United States citizens, along with a number of UK citizens, a citizen of Germany, and a citizen of Guyana,” the DOT further said on its website.
Premier Smith, in the meantime, indicated that members of the management team at BVI are Jerry D Willoughby, Scott A Weisman, Bruce F Bradley, Pauline E Jones, Lester S Hyman, Robert Cisella, and Ryan Geluk.
The premier was also asked to state how much of BVI Airways’ total assets consists of private equity and debt. He replied: “This is commercially sensitive information and cannot be made public at this time.”
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