By Horace Mills, BVI News Online Staff
Tempers flared in the House of Assembly this afternoon over highly controversial and damaging claims that the privately owned BVI Airways has been involved in insider trading in the United States.
Insider trading is the illegal practice of trading on the stock exchange to one’s own advantage through having access to confidential information.
Leader of the Opposition Andrew Fahie made the claim in the House of Assembly last month against BVI Airways – the airline in which the British Virgin Islands (BVI) government is investing $7 million to fly directly between the BVI and the United States.
The airline is still awaiting response to an application it made recently for approval from the United States Department of Transportation.
During a debate on the International Tax Authority Bill this afternoon (March 14), Minister of Education Myron Walwyn suggested that the Opposition leader does not have proof to back up his assertion that BVI Airways is involved in insider trading.
At that point, the Opposition leader sprang to his feet and indicated that the issue surrounding BVI Airways was not related to the Bill being debated.
Walwyn disagreed, adding: “It is a Bill that is seeking to preserve and protect the economy of the Virgin Islands; that’s what the Bill is about. That’s what it’s about. When you speak about the economy, you are talking about the economy.”
“I am getting to the point I am getting to because the comments were made in this Honourable House about the company doing insider trading, and people cannot come in the House and make those kinds of comments without facts,” Walwyn further said.
The Opposition leader however insisted that the issue has no link to the International Tax Authority Bill that is being debated. He added that Walwyn could take the necessary steps to facilitate a separate debate on BVI Airways.
“Is he (Walwyn) in the company? What does that have to do with the International Tax Authority Act that we are here doing? If he wants to know whether what I say [about BVI Airways being involved in insider trading] have facts or not, we can have a separate debate about that. Madam Speaker, tell the member (Walwyn) to confine his comments on the International Tax Authority Act and not BVI Airways because, if he does it, I will get up every minute [and raise objections]…”
“If you want to speak to that [issue], you come and you bring a separate debate on BVI Airways. I could bet my bottom dollar you won’t beat me on it. But I didn’t know you were coming in here to tie that [issue] in [the debate about the International Tax Authority Act],” Fahie further told the House militantly.
He also accused Walwyn of trying to bully him whenever he raises issues in the legislature.
“Nobody going to bully me in here. I respect everybody that come in here and give their opinion… Every time I open my mouth, if something that I have to say, this minister wants to jump on. Maybe you live a life for everybody [to be] afraid of you, but not I Andrew Alturo Fahie,” the Leader of the Opposition further said.
With tension still high, Speaker of the House Ingrid Moses-Scatliffe recessed for lunch.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of BVI Airways Jerry Willoughby last week sent an open letter to BVI News Online, describing the allegations about insider trading as patently false and slanderous.
While not mentioning the Opposition leader’s name, Willoughby wrote: “BVI Airways was attacked and slandered on the floor of the House of Assembly [last month]… We are highly disappointed that the collective investments of time and capital to make non-stop service to Miami, Florida a reality has been recklessly placed at risk for political gains and avarice.”
“The false claims made on the floor of the House of Assembly accusing BVI Airways of unpaid obligations, insider trading, and unscrupulous business practices are patently false, lack any legal basis, and are an affront to our hard-working employees and the many Virgin Islanders in both the public and private sectors who have toiled long and hard to bring this venture to reality,” Willoughby further said in his letter.
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