BVI News

Gov’t legal fees for COI capped at $5M

Premier Andrew Fahie

The amount of money the government will spend for legal services in the Commission of Inquiry (COI) has been capped at $5 million.

“That’s not to say we’re anywhere close to that. [It’s] because there are two sets of legal teams,” Premier Andrew Fahie said during a press conference Thursday afternoon, May 20.

The legal teams the government has hired consist of Silk Law, which is locally based, and Queen’s Counsel Sir Geoffrey Cox who is accompanied by his team from the UK law firm, Withers.

Sir Geoffrey and Withers are working with and through the Attorney General’s Chambers while “the House of Assembly made a decision for Silk Law”.

“Silk Law does not represent the executive arm of the government (Cabinet); only the House of Assembly side,” Premier Fahie said.

Why two legal teams?

He noted that the Attorney General’s Office did not have enough human resources to meet the government’s legal needs as it relates to the COI.

He described this deficiency as a longstanding problem his administration has since allocated funding to address.

And while further justifying the number of legal teams hired, Fahie it said it is important that the government is properly represented.

Here’s his reason: “We’re not just fighting for the individual (in government). We’re fighting for the institution … And if it requires getting some lawyers to help our local Attorney General’s Office that is depleted, [we’ve done so].”

“I do agree that persons should be concerned about how much the law firms cost, but persons must not overlook the fact that we are fighting for the heart and soul of the Virgin Islands and for the name of the Virgin Islands,” added the Premier, who appeared before the COI this week.

What happened during Premier’s COI appearance

The leader of government business communicated that he was questioned on “a wide range of focus areas”.

These areas included allegations of corruption during the tenure of the last NDP administration; government consultant Claude Skelton Cline; businesspersons and statutory board members, Patsy Lake and Bevis Sylvester; as well as EZ Shipping, which was paid nearly $12,000 per day to assist the territory with border security.

Coming out of the experience, Premier Fahie had a few “personal” comments on how he believed the process could have been improved.

“My first-hand observation is that transparency, efficiency, and effectiveness can be enhanced if persons summoned to appear before the Commission are advised of what subject they will be questioned on so that they can ensure they are prepared and they walk with the correct supporting documents and so forth,” the Premier stated.

“I’m not saying that the Commission should tell the witness the exact questions they will be asked, but merely what topic areas they should come prepared to address,” he added.

Broadcast the hearings

And while commending the COI for starting to roll out transcripts of the hearings, Premier Fahie maintained that the proceedings should be broadcast on the internet and the radio.

“While some transcripts are being made available, not everyone is able to sit down and read these massive numbers of pages. Persons who have challenges reading would be left worst off. However, broadcast of the proceedings makes it easier for the public to access and digest,” Fahie reasoned.

The COI recently said it would start live broadcasts after May 31 when it moves into the next stage of its proceedings.

Follow BVI New’s coverage of the 2021 Commission of Inquiry on Instagram @BVINewsOnline #TrackingTransparency at www.bvinews.com.

Copyright 2021 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

40 Comments

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  1. Breach says:

    Isn’t this against the rules of the COI? Wasn’t it a rule that no one should speak about what they were interviewed about? Let’s see what happens to the Premier for this breach. Also knowing him he probably told a set of fibs on the previous government like he has been doing for years until Gus found out he doesn’t tell the truth with anything.

    Like 22
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    • HUH! says:

      Read the transcript of the submissions that the two lawyers at silk (neither of whom is a silk) – it was embarrassing and they seemed to have no understanding of the relevant principles of law or procedure. If they are being paid $100 a day it is too much, but I suspect they are charging thousands or tens of thousands a day . The CoI should be looking at silks fees – it is a waste of taxpayers money.

      Like 23
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    • @Breach says:

      Just stop your double standard. The law must be balanced and no one is above the law not even the commission of inquiry. The people and government of the Virgin Islands have rights also and not just the UK and their commission of inquiry. If the inquiry have a website and talking then so let our premier talk and inform us also and defend us. I see absolutely no problem with what the Premier is doing.

      Like 19
      Dislike 3
    • Rubber Duck says:

      No. The Commission wants all transcripts published immediately and wants the hearings live-streamed.

      Albert and his gang don’t want that at all.

    • Rubber Duck says:

      It’s about 1.25% of the Governments income.

      For comparison if the UK government spent the same percentage defending itself it would be about $14 BILLION.

      Or if you like it’s about $170 per person , man woman and child , in the BVI.

      An incredible amount if they have nothing to hide.

  2. Lol says:

    They making 5 mil sound like a little bit. Was expecting a mil the most.

    Like 17
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  3. rastarite says:

    Five million of taxpayers money to defend a bunch of c***ks… so sad it’s almost laughable. Lawyers getting rich at taxpayers’ expense.

    Like 51
    Dislike 37
    • @rastarite says:

      You sound so foolish. The slave mentality is alive and well. All of a sudden once you are black you are guilty. Now I see how our auntsecetors were inslaved. It was because of fools like you.

      Like 18
      Dislike 11
  4. Smh says:

    I thought that the commissioner said that no one should speak on what they were interviewed about. Is the Premier above the rules of the COI? If no action is taken against him then anybody could talk about what they were questioned on.

    Like 20
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    • But says:

      The question is did he actually speak about what was asked or did he just mention who went and the general questions asked which are actually public already🤷🏽‍♀️

      Like 19
      Dislike 5
  5. Too many bad decisions says:

    This government has failed in so many ways,, Why get an attorney general who is not qualified, Our Attorney General should have been capable to defend our government against anyfhing including the COI..Now we have to ship out 5 Mil….to put on top of what they gave away..

    Like 32
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    • Local says:

      See what happens. they get the local Attorney General look now. She can’t defend anything . All of a sudden the chambers short staff. Smh! Bet if it was an expat AG they would have expected representation to the fullest. I am so dissatisfied and disappointed in our local AG.

      Like 6
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    • Oh please says:

      The UK playing bullies in the 21st century and now you trying to blame the government. Blame the rogue past governor who has left the country in confusion to cover up for his failure.

      Like 31
      Dislike 14
  6. GTFOH says:

    The transcripts are not rolling out fast enough, Based on the schedule on the site, Wade and Skelton Cline would have been interviewed well over a week ago and days before Bevis but somehow the transcript for Bevis is out before Wade and Skelton Cline. Everybody is interested in the transcript for CSC so what’s the hold up.

    Also so far I’m getting a little disappointed in the COI as this doesn’t look like it is about widespread corruption in the BVI. This seem to be targeted solely on the last 3 years. The last 15 or so years we have had so many issues that demand answers Pier Park, BVI Airways, Government ministers trying to develop marina on portions of their land as a government project, alleged sexual assaults and people getting paid to keep quiet, Hospital, BVI High School wall, Neighbourhood Partnership Project with Fahie and CSC, Politicians were going bankrupt and selling everything they owned got elected and their whole life changed, Corruption in the Police force all of these things at least so far will be excluded because of the short time frame and limited scope. Now it’s really starting to look like this was all just a tit for tat between Gus and Andrew.

    From the website, “the purpose is to establish whether there is evidence of corruption, abuse of office or other serious dishonesty that has taken place in public office in recent years, and if so what conditions allowed this to happen. This will ensure that BVI’s governance is working in a fair and transparent manner for the people of BVI. The Commissioner will report his findings and recommendations to the Governor.The Commission of Inquiry is not a court, therefore it will not make findings of criminality”

    Are you seriously saying that corruption only began during the last 3 years when Ministers spoke about it’s ok to put your hand in the cookie jar way longer than that? This wont fix anything when the other culprits are free to run for election again. Hopefully I just jumped the gun and the COI start to bring in former members of the HOA as well and the time frame expands.

    Like 16
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    • Brown paper bag says:

      The COO has terms of reference that must be followed. It’s nit just let’s pick this situation and look into it so that we could look fair to both VIP and NDP. If you are looking deeper then you need to look at the Peebles hospital (which has the biggest overrun of any project ever done in the country), you have to look at the bi-water agreement, you have to look at the Sea Cow’s Bay Harbour project, you have to look at the millions spent on studies at the airport for expansion, you have to look at the last festival report, you have to look at the VG hospital project and why that contractor got the job, you have to look at the social security housing project and why that contractor got the job ( he is tied to and supported a former minister). You have to look at everything. The people may not get the chance to go back to England.

      Like 5
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    • Rubber Duck says:

      The very smart COI lawyer ( black as it happens ) is lining up these bozos for a fall. Trapped by their own lies.

      Like 2
      Dislike 1
  7. $5 mil says:

    $5 mil just for the COI. Just wait till they are all indicted. How much the government going to spend defending them? Just unreal and all the Belonger dummies sit back and think this is ok. You should be out in the street screaming. There is no need for lawyers if you’re innocent. Wake up people. They are using your money to hide from their c***ked ways.

    Like 7
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  8. Anonymous says:

    Hello … I need help with my rent this month. Wasting tax payers money and ppl can’t buy food. VIP full a f**k!

    Like 14
    Dislike 7
  9. just you wait says:

    And this is just for the COI, you wait and see how much everything will come up to when this whole thing turns into a Criminal trial.

    Like 7
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  10. PT9 says:

    Andrew Fahie, Said And while further justifying the number of legal teams hired, said it is important that the government is properly represented reason been We’re not just fighting for the individual (in government). We’re fighting for the institution … And if it requires getting some lawyers to help our local Attorney General’s Office that is depleted, [we’ve done so].” You really have a lot of nerves to be talking about looking out for the BVI and its people, you never thought about us while you were doing your allegedly underhand businesses you are a very sad person. The people of the BVI didn’t cause this COI you and the past government is the cause of this. Again you are using the taxpayer’s money like its yours.

    Like 24
    Dislike 1
    • To PT9 says:

      Here we go again with your allegations and this sad newsite posting them. The BVI has really turn into a war zone all courtesy of the master of division the British. I have never seen or heard a Brit in authority who has ever had these islands best interest at heart so becareful who you a routing for. Fahie keep pushing ahead and don’t mind the few haters.

      Like 24
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      • @To Pt9 says:

        Here we go again what? VIP won the elections on bashing everyone and their grandmother, now the heat is on and you want to tell people what they should and shouldn’t say? Move up!

  11. patsyleak says:

    jesus, its so brazen. using a commission of inquiry into corruption to fritter away $5m

    on lawyers including silk law!

    there needs to be an investigation into the government’s response to the inquiry

    Like 6
    Dislike 4
  12. My take says:

    I read most of the negative blogs on this site that is ALWAYS against the Premier and his government. Clearly this is a set up but it will not work. I hope my blog gets posted because at no time does this site post my blogs when they are in favor of the premier and his government. The Premier and his team is doing a good job and we are behind him.

    Like 27
    Dislike 14
    • Anonymous says:

      The comment section only represent a tiny percent of potential voters if they can vote at all. The emptiest vessels make the most noise.Post elections, the losers are never satisfied. They will stay in denial and find every fault and negative in everything because their party lost the election. The election was 2019 they are barely 2 years into their term and more than a year they were affected by a pandemic and shutdown worldwide. It’s unrealistic if you expect a new government to turn water into wine under those conditions.

      Like 2
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  13. Ignorance says:

    When you read most of these blogs which are against the Premier they are clearly from the same persons and they display huge ignorance. If a thief can have a lawyer to defend him in a case against him like the Premier said then why can’t our Virgin Islands have a lawyer to assist in us defending our good name. Let’s get out of the slave mentality.

    Like 21
    Dislike 6
  14. Standards says:

    He broke the rules of the COI and for the integrity of the commission they must take action on this.

  15. Rubber Duck says:

    Hilarious to see these B*** c***ks hanging themselves.

  16. Doctor No says:

    Just to be clear, that’s $5 million of our money these clowns are throwing away.

  17. Something fishy says:

    Silk law has no silk and it’s obvious from the poor submissions they make. Is somebody in the government close to these lawyers because this do make any sense to me?

    Like 7
    Dislike 1
  18. BVI Future says:

    Where is this government getting huge sum of monies for legal defense?
    The high school is poorly underfunded. Teachers are underpaid as well!
    Most people who can travel to St. Thomas or Puerto Rico do for medical care.
    Roads are dangerous because of potholes!
    Money is being borrowed from social security. Wait until you people are ready to retire; then you all will understand.
    The country is becoming brain dead because there is no incentive for the young educated people to return back to the BVI.
    It does not matter whether it is the VIP or the NDP, what matters is the safety, economy and the future of the BVI.
    Right now, this country needs leaders who are focus on the future of this country.

    Like 10
    Dislike 1
  19. ... says:

    That $5 million could be used in fixing the Schools especially ESHS and building a Public Libray. Too much fundings being provided for what it seems (clearing individuals names and status) instead of the Betterment of the Voters who elected to see a change.

  20. Terrible people says:

    A certain politician was collecting stimulus cheques for people who didn’t apply and taking most of the money.

  21. awa says:

    @My take, This is no set up if you and whoever else can’t see what has been going on with this government then you all are blind, The Premier is up in our face every week with some untruth or doing things that are very questionable dealings, someone has to put a stop to this government or the BVI will sink so low we will be in more trouble than we are now. He talks about BVI love there are about 15 leaseholders for the Palm Grove Shopping Center which was destroyed in 2017 the government was to have the place insured but it was not insured, up to now, they have done nothing about rebuilding it instead they want to break the lease with the leaseholders who have at least 50 years left on their lease. Who good name is he defending he says it’s the people of the BVI and the BVI but we are not the ones been investigated.
    Andrew Fahie and his ministers don’t have what it takes to run a small company much less a country, Everything they have done with the opening of the BVI has been a mess, they say one thing today and the next day it’s something else.

    Like 5
    Dislike 2
  22. Ok now says:

    All of you who against the Premier spending our people to protect us can go to h**l. None of us know how much the UK spending to try to destroy us through this modern colonialism method. I am sure it is more than $5million.

    Like 1
    Dislike 6
  23. BVI Future says:

    Yes, there are corruption in the UK, the USA and Africa, etc. That is not the issue here. The issue here is the future of this country. We do not know how much the UK is spending on this COI; however, they can afford it. Can the BVI continue to spend money on things that does not enhance the future of this country? The UK prints its’ money, so does the USA and Africa. The BVI does not prints its own money. Think about that!

    Like 6
    Dislike 1
  24. No faith in current or future leaders says:

    My faith in current, previous and future political parties is gone.

    Truly I now believe they are for rich and their own status. Other than that no faith. Mean to tell me you can’t find money to build a new school, can’t find money to raise government workers pay, but could find money for COI.

    Truly sad, I can’t wait to see the end results of the COI

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