BVI News

What was govt’s rush for $10M land investment deal? COI grills minister

Labour & Immigration Minister, Vincent Wheatley.

Minister for Natural Resources Vincent Wheatley was grilled about the apparent haste with which the government approached a $10 million land investment deal with an unnamed developer last year. 

When he appeared before the Commission of Inquiry (COI) yesterday, October 14, Minister Wheatley said it was largely because of the urgency of the pandemic. 

When asked for an explanation about what was the rush for the matter being brought to Cabinet, Minister Wheatley said: “You see the date on it? Middle of the pandemic. We are trying to get the country shut down, we’re trying to get economic activity in the country. If you look at the financial implications of it, it lays it out there.”

He continued: “Somebody’s trying to put an injection of $10 million in our economy during a very bad time — the worst pandemic in 100 years. We are scrambling trying to figure out how we’re going to get this economy moving. That is the hurry, that was the hurry, to get economic activity in the country.” 

Cabinet dealt with issue prematurely

COI attorney, Bilal Rawat, said the Attorney General’s (AG) Chambers had suggested that the issue was prematurely brought to Cabinet. Among the reasons for the AG’s conclusion was that the rent was expected to be calculated by reference to a valuation of the land. However, this valuation was still absent at the time the deal was brought to Cabinet for consideration. 

The COI attorney also suggested that the process was done relatively quickly given that it took place over a short space of time in December 2020. He further pointed out that other applications took a much longer time to be processed and approved. 

“Can you shed any light on why you go from 4 December to the 23rd, appearing to give the green light to a $10-$15 million development in Road Town?” Rawat asked. 

Minister Wheatley said all the businesses were closed at the time and the government jumped at the opportunity when it was presented to inject some economic activity into the territory, adding that construction was a way of doing this. 

He also explained that a valuation report and survey for the development could have come once the lease was being prepared, but the Cabinet’s recommendation was simply an approval to go ahead to prepare the survey and lease.

No obligation to build placed on developer

Rawat informed Minister Wheatley that the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry had told the COI that a survey and valuation report ought to have been made available prior to any recommendation being taken to Cabinet for consideration.

But Minister Wheatley said he was not sure that this was an instance where the regular process needed to be followed.

In the end, Minister Wheatley told the COI that he could not say whether the lease was ever completed, adding that a lease was never granted, as per Cabinet’s decision. 

“If memory serves me right, I don’t think that lease is done yet,” he stated. 

Business plan?

He also said that he could not say whether a business plan had gone to the Premier’s Office, noting that this only happens in instances where there is a development agreement. 

He said development agreements are only put in place in scenarios where investors need something from government, but in this instance, this was not the case. 

“They were simply investing in the country so I don’t see a need for one, a development agreement,” Minister Wheatley said.

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21 Comments

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  1. Observer says:

    Giving away crown land..not really a surprise coming from f** Albert’s team of cronies.

    Like 41
    Dislike 5
    • Rubber Duck says:

      There is much more than $10 million ready to be invested by the people already here, if only they could cut through the bureaucracy and bullshit of this awful government and it’s backward, obstructive (un)civil services

      Like 7
      Dislike 1
  2. Soooo says:

    So while everyone was in lockdown a dirty deal with an UN-named developer is approved once again in the dark cavern of the Foy government. No tender process, no advertising, no name of who the party is and most importantly who in the government benefited from this deal. If not for the COI, another dirty deal would remain in the shadows. Wheatley is as d***y as they come. His Delta Petroleum deal is another example. The man is stuffing his pockets at every turn. Lock him up. Lock him up. Lock him up.

    Like 70
    Dislike 5
  3. Same old same old says:

    The same old tactic from the CoI – hint at corruption but don’t actually allege it becauase there is no evidence of any – leave that for the blogs and idle chatter to whip up.
    The Commissioner is appearing in the biggest theatre show in town, and is taking the starring role, supported by a lapdog that sometimes fluffs his lines.

    Like 6
    Dislike 72
  4. smh says:

    Whenever you think you hear it all it just got more shady stuff to find… This administration is garbage

    Like 48
    Dislike 3
  5. heckler says:

    The VIP wanted to give away this whole place?

    Like 27
    Dislike 1
  6. What is kept in the dark.. says:

    Is brought in the light by Bilal! I absolutely love this man! Is he single?

    Like 40
    Dislike 4
    • Agreed says:

      He is an amazing attorney!!! I love listening to him speak !!! Super intelligent and he has such an eloquent way of putting these BVI political clowns in their place !!!

      Like 19
      Dislike 2
  7. Useless Government says:

    They giving away everything. If they stay for two more years. We in trouble…This is the sad part. They dont think that they are doing anything wrong…

    Like 31
    Dislike 2
    • To Useless Government says:

      They see absolutely nothing wrong with what they are doing. These people are either in denial or really dumb.

  8. Just asking... says:

    Is the lease amount based on the valuation of the property? Wouldn’t a survey to know the amount of land, and a valuation to know the value of the land, be necessary? Wouldn’t you want to at least know what the land was valued at per square foot? How do you write a lease before you have the most important information to put into the lease? I don’t suppose they sent this one to the Attorney General for vetting first. Just asking.

    Like 17
  9. WATCHING ON says:

    Bilal Rawat, said the Attorney General’s (AG) Chambers had suggested that the issue was prematurely brought to Cabinet.

    Amazing an attonery who set up shop with legal sanction of the state in a rush ….. queestioned someone on a rush ..why where you in such a rush also ..stupse

    Like 2
    Dislike 18
    • Fantastic says:

      Don’t use the pandemic as a convenience. Let the people work. Don’t lockdown and then bring in business. Total foolishness at any time. Get real. Don’t worry about anyone but your easily traceable plans. Let’s see where the money goes in this one. We’re all listening to the wealthy and how they hide their money.

      Like 12
    • Pandora papers says:

      Let’s see where the money goes

    • ????? Follow says:

      Let’s see where the money goes. Let’s follow

  10. @ EXCUSES GOVERNMENT says:

    I think they know what they are doing /the POWER went to their heads and now JAWS AIN’T GOT NOTHING ON THESE ANIMALS

    Like 5
    Dislike 1
  11. Vw says:

    Allelu this minister is in hot water.He is a joker.coi continues hitting the..

    Like 6
    Dislike 1
  12. Nip It In The Bud says:

    Eilher a snake or a lizard, none the less a serpent.

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