(CMR) The Governor of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) has called a commission of inquiry to investigate concerns around poor governance in the country, including allegations of possible corruption and other criminal activities.
Gus Jaspert, the British-appointed BVI governor, with the UK Government's backing, called for the inquiry to investigate a long list of allegations against the BVI Government.
This inquiry comes after the seizure of two tonnes of cocaine on BVI last November, with a street value of just under £190 million.
The inquiry is expected to look into possible political interference and coercion in relation to appointments in the public service and statutory boards, including the criminal justice system and individual criminal cases.
The inquiry will also seek to address concerns about spending on Government contracts without a proper procurement process and the misuse of taxpayers’ money on infrastructure and transport projects.
There are also allegations that funds set aside for struggling families during the pandemic may have been channeled to political allies.
Also, to be investigated are claims that people in public service, media, and community leaders are intimidated and live in fear.
The inquiry, which is expected to run for six months, will be headed by UK judge Sir Gary Hickinbottom. He will have a High Court Judge's powers to collect evidence and summon any person in the BVI to give evidence.
The Commission will examine whether there is information to substantiate claims that corruption, abuse of position and serious impropriety has taken place in public office in recent years and will make recommendations.
The UK and BVI will be able to consider the recommendations together and look at what best serves the people of the BVI.
Governor Jaspert broke the news of the inquiry to the island on Monday after returning from the UK, where he was on leave.
UK's Foreign Office said the inquiry had been prompted by deepening concerns about the islands' governance issues.
Meantime Governor of the Cayman Islands Martyn Roper said he was pleased with the good governance mechanism in the Cayman Islands. He said the commission of inquiry in the BVI was “a serious matter underlining the UK’s strong adherence to good governance in the Overseas Territories.”
“I am proud of the good governance mechanisms in the Cayman Islands, which are enshrined in our constitution. The Auditor-General, the Ombudsman and Independent Commissions such as the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Commission for Standards in Public Life all continue to perform valuable work which underpins our democracy and good governance. I have every confidence that they will continue to do so,” he added.