Smith back with another gov’t contract as COI probes the last
On the heels of a controversy where he quietly held a government contract for eight months before declaring it to the House of Assembly (HOA), Deputy Speaker Neville Smith is scheduled to return to the legislative body seeking exemption from vacating his seat for a new contract with government.
According to the order paper for the next sitting of the House that commences today, Smith’s company, Caribbean Security Limited, wants to provide services for the installation of access control, video surveillance, and burglar alarm systems in the Ministry of Finance. As part of that contract, the company must also provide additional installations such as a building-wide fire system at RFG Place in Road Town.
The total cost for these services is $87,013.
As a director of Caribbean Security Limited, Smith must vacate his seat in the HOA if his firm wants to enter into a contract with the government. However, territory’s constitution allows for an exemption if Smith discloses the nature of the contract “before becoming a party to a contract … or, as soon as practicable, after becoming interested” in the contract with the government.
Doing business with gov’t years before becoming politician
Smith’s company has been doing business with the government long before he ever entered politics. And under justifiable circumstances, he and any other legislator is able to engage in such contracts.
But Smith and the governing Virgin Islands Party government has been the subject of heavy scrutiny and criticism because the last time Smith’s company was contracted by government back in November 2020, the public or the HOA was not made aware about it till July 2021, nearly a year later.
I didn’t tell HOA because I didn’t know of the contract, COI hears
Commission of Inquiry (COI) questioned Smith about this when he appeared in a hearing yesterday, September 21.
“I have pulled myself away from those entities (my businesses) since being elected … I don’t know anything about contracts. I’m not aware till when I ask a question or something is given to me. That is why these contracts here took so long. I did not know of them at the time,” Smith told the COI.
“I have a business partner who does the day-to-day running of Caribbean Security [and] I am not privy to most of whatever is being done with contracts … The most I am involved with the company is, because I’m a signatory of cheques, I might sign the cheques and have my wife deal with the day-to-day running of that part of it — the signing of cheques,” the first-term legislator further explained.
Smith can’t give notice if he doesn’t know
Section 67 of the Virgin Islands Constitution speaks to HOA members vacating their seat if they or their firm enter into a contract with the government. Examining that section, the government’s attorney in the COI, Sir Geoffrey Cox, said the starting point for when a legislator should give notice to the House is “before becoming a party to a contract” OR “as soon as practicable, after becoming interested” in the contract with the government.
“It might not be ‘practicable’ if he (Smith) didn’t know about,” Sir Geoffery argued.
Sir Geoffery is expected to give further legal submissions on the matter at a later time.
Copyright 2023 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.
how is this not corruption
We have board members, who are business people, saying that they destroy contracts and invoices once they are paid and elected officials who are managing directors of their businesses but claim to have absolutely nothing to do with their businesses. These are people representing us as leaders, before the COI and totally embarrassed us. Now we are saying the UK is being unfair by labelling us as corrupt and inept? We want to convince people that we can handle our own affairs? Just because they’re local we pretend like what’s happening is complete foolishness? I don’t know what else to say except we are in deep s**t.
When you big, you LARGE smh
Who believes that sheep wasn’t aware of the November contract? I think he was aware of it, I must give it to him he is a good actor.
“That is why these contracts here took so long. I did not know of them at the time,” And the white man that runs that business for you didn’t know enough to inform you about it? Even after the big show you made of declaring your previous contracts in 2019? Please you may be a sheep but the rest of us are not.
I wonder if he ever ask himself it this was worth it? Looking at the value of the contracts involved it can’t be worth all this stress.
How could you have a business and not know what’s going on??
If that is correct then he don’t know what’s going on with the business of us the people. He, willock and Penn can go siddown because they do not have our, the people business as a priority.
The people of this country need to open their eyes. Sheep’s interview reminds me of when someone in an interview is given the questions and answers beforehand. The whole thing including that questioning with Myron looked unreal allegedly.
Something has changed from the first time when the whole process started. It is alleged that official has made secret trips to the UK and perhaps a deal was made behind the scenes.
What a fiasco, you can see for the politicians a slap on the risk is coming but for BVIslanders harsh penalties and rules that will affect our lives forever like in 2003 when financial services was made a statutory body and revenues was made available to government two times a year which this slowed down the economy and vendors getting paid.
The people of this country will be left holding the bag and just like in 2003 the Politicians will get off easily.
You will think with the COI currently undergoing that folks would steer clear of potentially controversial issues but it appears some folks simply do not care. Appearances be darn.
THIS IS A GOOD MAN TO BE ELECTED FOR GOVERMENT
is not dead after all!
If his wife is involved in the business on a day to day basis and so too his business partner, how is it that he does not know? Dont they communicate?
This is just total and utter BS. What a shame!
We have to STOP
WE are responsible for this.
WE have to stop these shennanigans.
it is our fault.
This situation come and bite each and every one of us on the @$$ because we participated.
If you care about the future of the territory, VOTE.
If you care about the future of the territory, RUN.
Or rise up, march, and demand change. If not take it.
Sheep you must stop it, you know and i know you love money soo much that u must know everything that going on with ur business, l**ng just don’t get you no where in life
From his testimony, it appears there are also some Monitoring and Maintenance contracts. He might say they are “just” agreements, but once services and payment change hands then they are contracts too.
Did he declare those?
Its called abuse of process aka Corruption.
Mr. Smith’s allegations that, as a business owner, he was unaware of his company’s engagement with the government are laughable. Is he saying that an $ 87k contract is so small no one who works for him bothered to mention it to him? Is he really claiming that he knew “nothing” about contracts despite being a signatory to cheques? How many business owners out there are as apparently oblivious to revenue sources, clients, balance sheets, p/l statements? His excuses rank right up there with the “dog ate my homework”. How stupid does he think people are? With COI in town, the right thing to do is to deny his extension request. To do otherwise just sends the message that cronyism is alive, well and thriving.
had he watched any Madea movies he would have known what he should have said. jokes for days
thats how they ROLL ,that child from VG who is
still looking for a fight with the UK and still refuse to see or hear all
that the (COI) is REVEALING in her own backyard 😳 I guess integrity / conscience / honesty is absent
Wow, you have a business and making money and dont know what responsibilities you have, no wonder you and your Govt cannot govern efficiently.
What ting to talk . The white man have the by their balls . Look what who did dis put ayo into .
Is this government really telling me that they can not find any other local security company for the contract? Like seriously?