Members of the Andrew Fahie administration are not the only ones who will be under scrutiny when this year’s Commission of Inquiry (COI) begins, as the Commissioner has been given the power to focus on the areas or years of his choice.
At the same time, the public should note that the COI will not be examining particular individuals or political parties. Instead, it will be looking to see if political corruption existed in any dealings executed by present and past administrations.
This means that present and past political scandals which happened under both the NDP and VIP could resurface when the COI convenes.
Some notable scandals which have affected NDP administrations include the BVI Airways scandal, Pier Park cost overrun and the ESHS Perimeter Wall Project which was investigated by police and handed over to the Director of Public Prosecution for consideration.
Scandals linked to the VIP include the 2009 Neighbourhood Partnership Project, as well as reports of government intimidation, victimisation and transparency concerns. There have also been concerns relating government’s spending such as the $115,600 Cadillac Escalade and the unprecedented hiring of personal bodyguards for the Office of the Premier after the General Elections in 2019.
“The Governor has not asked the Commissioner to look into any specific political parties or individuals. The terms [of reference] have been deliberately drafted this way to ensure fairness. It will be for the Commissioner to determine areas of focus based on initial evidence collected,” a response from Governor Augustus Jaspert’s office said.
The terms of reference for the COI were officially gazetted on January 20, 2021.
The Governor’s Office also said, “there is no specific time period set out in the terms of reference. So it’s up to the Commissioner to decide the areas or years he wishes to focus on”.
Which Governor will receive COI report?
In the meantime, the public has been hoping for clarity about which governor will receive the final report once the Commission of Inquiry ends, as Governor Jaspert is set to depart the BVI soon.
The Governor’s Office has since told our news centre that Governor Jaspert’s impending departure will not affect the COI.
“Once the Commissioner has been sworn in and commences his inquiry, it will be business as usual for the new Governor and his office. The Commission is completely independent of the Governor’s Office,” the response from Governor Jaspert’s Office said.
Copyright 2021 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.