BVI governor launches corruption inquiry

| 18/01/2021 | 34 Comments
BVI Governor Gus Jaspert

(CNS): Gus Jaspert, the outgoing governor of the British Virgin Islands, has opened a commission of inquiry into allegations in the territory of significant political corruption, major governance issues and even accusations of criminal gangs infiltrating the elected and administrative branches. In a press release from the Cayman Islands governor’s office, officials said the seizure of two tonnes of cocaine in the BVI in November, with a street value of about $US250 million, indicated the scale of the problem.

According to local reports, the cocaine had been found in the home of a serving police officer.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a written statement to parliament Monday that they were “concerned about the potential vulnerability of the islands to serious organised crime”.

This includes political interference and coercion in relation to public service and statutory board appointments; intimidation of people in public service, the media and community leaders; the misuse of public cash set aside to help families suffering as a result of the pandemic; and corruption relating to procurement of tens of millions of dollars for various government projects.

Sir Gary Hickinbottom, a UK judge, has been appointed to run the inquiry and investigate the allegations. British officials said that neither the BVI governor nor the UK government could stand by, given the serious allegations that have been made.

The commission will inquire into whether there is information to substantiate claims that corruption, abuse of position and serious impropriety has taken place in public office in recent years. It will then make recommendations, which are expected to be reported to the BVI governor within a few months, with a full report expected within six months.

Cayman Islands Governor Martyn Roper said in the release from his office that this was a serious matter and the launch of the inquiry underlined Britain’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 governor stated, despite the persistent concern here about corruption, though this is considerably more discreet and less substantial than the level currently suspected in the BVI.

Roper pointed to offices in the Cayman Islands, including those of the auditor general and the ombudsman, and independent commissions such as the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Commission for Standards in Public Life, which “all continue to perform valuable work which underpins our democracy and good governance. I have every confidence that they will continue to do so”.

Cayman and the BVI have fairly strong connections and the two Caribbean territories have assisted each other over the years. In 2017 the RCIPS sent officers to the BVI to help the police there round up prisoners who had escaped in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Premier Alden McLaughlin also assisted BVI and other territories hit by the 2017 hurricanes get cash from the UK to help them rebuild.

During his visit here for the pre-JMC meeting in the summer of 2019, Premier Andrew Fahie echoed McLaughlin’s concerns about the UK imposing beneficial ownership registers on the territories with financial service sectors. BVI has, until recently, been one of the most reluctant territories to get on board with the idea of public registers.

On Monday, following the official announcement regarding the commission of inquiry, Governor Jasper issued a statement on Facebook about the corruption allegations.

The territory is due to swear in a new governor shortly. John Rankin, who arrived in the territory on Thursday, will be sworn in after the required 14-day quarantine.


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Comments (34)

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  1. J. A. Roy Bodden says:

    Anyone who has read The Panama Papers should not be surprised that this is happening in the BVI . I was saddened to learn that many of those alleged to be associated with the corruption which has triggered this inquiry are persons with whom I was acquainted during my sixteen years in public life . In an environment where moral absolutes seem to loose importance ,too many people are prone to believing that they will never be caught .

    I have always wondered why so many people are willing to sacrifice their dignity and decorum by jettisoning the very values which made them electable in the first instance?

  2. Anonymous says:

    How about the heavy duffels with $25mln worth that was allowed to walk out of RCIPS’ “secure evidence locker” within a barbed-wired, CCTV-equipped District Police station – where nobody saw anything, the CCTV wasn’t working, and nobody was ever investigated, or charged. A very short list of people even knew it was there. XXXXX Nothing to see here.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ah, they found and arrested corrupt drug dealer. Now let us all hand in our bank account numbers, business and personal details to the goverment.

  4. Anonymous says:

    what the CJ says in cayman judiciary goes…is that right? so we have it here on a much smaller case…e.g. some time ago the cj and judges used to decide cases in giving legal aid prior to goung to court? they have a new director of legal aid..but ….

    • Anonymous says:

      It still happens. The new director tows the line as well. Look closely at the speaker’s recent court case. Three separate abuses of the young lady that night, and she sustained injuries, yet nothing higher than common assault charged? Any comments from the DPP? What is background and experience of the magistrate who heard the case?

  5. Catcha Fire says:

    I am not sure if it’s Our Governor’s policy or the FCO’s but their exist understanding that in some countries and territories where they operate or rule there is a tradition of corruption in which the political elites work with business and government in a framework of unsavory relationships.Where unfortunately there are two kinds of morality side by side.One which we preach but do not practice and another which we practice but seldom preach. The latter when it benefits us financially politically and strategically no matter how immoral or criminal it appears.

    • Anonymous says:

      The FCO is extremely tolerant of corruption. The UK is notoriously comfortable with it. That is one of the ways it punches above its weight diplomatically: by not judging other countries and instead judging everything by what is in its own interests. Ask an FCO appointee to say “British interests” five times fast and they will have no difficulty. So look at it objectively. Corruption in Cayman is objectively in British interests as long as a) it contributes to stability and financial health and b) publicity doesn’t cause reputational damage or otherwise force the UK to act. Or as it was put in Yes Minister: “if you’re incompetent you have to be honest, and if you’re crooked you have to be clever.” Right now we’re honest enough when we’re incompetent and clever enough when we’re crooked that there is no need to investigate us. All we have to do is stay below that threshold, which is another way of saying, there are always many things under the rug and that is what the rug is for.

      • Anonymous says:

        We have seen that tolerance over and over again…as long as you comply with UK interests and instructions you can do pretty much whatever you want.

        • anon says:

          11.09am and 4.38pm If the FCO interferes in our government they are damned, if they do not interfere in our government they are still damned. You all know what the answer is, but then you will be unable to blame anyone else for your mismanagement, incompetence and rampant corruption.

      • Anonymous says:

        An enlightened observation of an unfortunate reality.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Good governance? Stop drinking the kool aid Roper and do your damn job.

  7. Anonymous says:

    “I am proud of the good governance mechanisms in the Cayman Islands, which are enshrined in our constitution,” the governor stated, despite the persistent concern here about corruption, though this is considerably more discreet and less substantial than the level currently suspected in the BVI. WTF…Maybe we should replace Roper with Gus.

  8. A. Caymanian says:

    Dear FCO

    Please conduct the same focused investigations into corruption in the Cayman Islands immediately. The Anti-corruption commission is a joke and makes a mockery of its responsibilities. We need help because the current Governor is in denial and the corruption and abuse of office is no longer covert.

  9. Truth says:

    They really need to come here though.

    Don’t listen to the bullshit being slung behind closed doors by certain persons. Talk to the people.

    Start with the most senior and work your way down.

    On another note, and hint, look at LODGE members both in BVI and Cayman. You will see the pattern.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Ruh Roh!

  11. Anonymous says:

    We could stand to do the same here.

    • Hubert says:

      Time has come to do the exact same thing here in Cayman as in the British Virgin Islands.

      Have no doubt we have corruption at a high level here.

      There are times when it really is good to have Mother in London calling the shots.

      • Anonymous says:

        Do you think the UK has the moral authority to rule anyone other than them selves?

        • Big Bobo In West Bay says:

          Yes the UK does have the moral authority over their Overseas Territories. However, if we become independent then they don’t.

  12. Anonymous says:

    You taking any notes from this Gov. Roper? High time this happened here. Oh wait, it did happen before here and some people got fried.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m surprised he was awake long enough to make a statement. “Cocaine..what…BVI…huh…beating woman at her workplace…zzzz”

  13. Anonymous says:

    Excellent, can we also check all money linked to criminal members of our Parliament with ties to BVI. I believe the term is PEP. If my memory serves me correctly, there was one BVI company that holds the shares in a mining operation based here (not sure why you wouldn’t just have a Cayman registered company hold those shares). But there was a trust also in play, trustee being…. I just can’t remember – common Caymanian name I think…not Ebanks, some lawyer. I wonder what other relationships between Caymanian PEP’s and holding companies based in the BVI would uncover if a detailed forensic investigation were ever to happen!

    • Anonymous says:

      WTH? There are currently no “mining” operations in the Cayman Islands, just quarries. The Bat Guano/Phosphorus mine in Little Cayman (and railway) were abandoned years ago. There are mining royalty streaming, and holding companies.

  14. John Smith says:

    “I am proud of the good governance mechanisms in the Cayman Islands, which are enshrined in our constitution,”!
    Are you kidding me?
    Is there another Cayman islands i dont know about?
    Pathetic.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Cayman is in a very unique place in the world. It’s very lucky we keep corruption to acceptable levels.

    • Anonymous says:

      Keep corruption to “acceptable levels”? For whom? The shady politicians? I think corruption in the Cayman Islands is very widespread…. just follow the money. The rug the dirty work is swept under would be large enough to cover Mt. Trashmore!

    • Anonymous says:

      Keep corruption to acceptable levels? Now THAT’S funny!

    • Anonymous says:

      5.38 That’s the trouble, corruption at ANY level is not acceptable, and people like you are giving a free pass to those who think they are invincible.
      Gov Roper, take action now by making an example of those who hand out fridges, toasters, washing machines to buy wotes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Acceptable to whom? P.T. Barnum?

    • Anonymous says:

      1) There are no gradations of uniqueness. Something is either unique or it is not.

      2) If any serious investigation were to occur here, it would be like throwing darts at a dartboard.

    • Anonymous says:

      Nobody gets this funny. (I did LOL!)

    • Big Bobo In West Bay says:

      5:38, You must be one of the corrupt ones feeding at the trough.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bring back Tempura!

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