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British Virgin Islands concern: UK govt

British Virgin Islands concern: UK govt

The United Kingdom is very concerned about governance in the British Virgin Islands, a British Overseas Territory, foreign minister Dominic Raab says, adding that there is unease about its susceptibility to organised crime.
The British Virgin Islands (BVI) is located in the Caribbean to the east of Puerto Rico.

A remnant of British empire, the territory operates a parliamentary democracy and is self-governing.

A governor appointed by Queen Elizabeth has oversight of external affairs, defence, internal security, administration of the courts, the public service, elections and disaster preparedness.

"The UK is extremely concerned about the state of good governance in the British Virgin Islands," Raab said in a written statement to parliament.

"A consistent and deeply troubling array of concerns have been put to the governor by local institutions and the community."

Raab listed several concerns, including misappropriation of funds set aside to cope with the pandemic, political interference in public appointments, intimidation of people in public service and misuse of taxpayers' money.

He also said there was a "potential vulnerability of the islands to serious organised crime," citing a November 2020 discovery of a 2.35 tonne haul of cocaine worth more than $US250 million ($A325 million).

Raab said an independent commission of inquiry had been set up to "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".

The commission led by UK judge Gary Hickinbottom would report back within six months, Raab said.
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