Premier Fahie told reporters during his press conference on Friday, August 27, 2021, that none of the thousands of documents that the government submitted to the CoI through the Inquiry Response Unit (IRU) shows dishonesty.
“I’m not just assuming; there has been no information that shows any corruption,” he replied when asked by ZBVI reporter Zan Lewis how he could make such a statement to a certain UK newspaper.
“They [CoI] provided that information to you?” Lewis asked.
“We provided it to them,” Premier Fahie responded.
“How do you know if they have evidence [of corruption] and they’re not telling you…and there is no official report?” Lewis questioned.
Hon Fahie said although no official report on the CoI’s findings has been made, it's “just common sense. If you have evidence of corruption, you don’t hold a CoI.”
The CoI, being led by a lone Commissioner and UK national Sir Gary R. Hickinbottom, was called by the controversial ex-governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert, who was accused of being antagonistic towards the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Government led by Premier Fahie.
Mr Jaspert schemed the Inquiry with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and even announced it without notifying the elected government. News of the Inquiry had even reached the UK press before the VI Government and local press found out.
Jaspert exited the territory mere days after announcing the CoI on Martin Luther King Jr Day. After a short break in August, the CoI is scheduled to resume its hearings on September 6, 2021, the 4th anniversary of the destructive and deadly Hurricane Irma making landfall in the VI.
The purpose of the CoI, according to the Commission, is to establish whether there is evidence of corruption, abuse of office or other serious dishonesty that has taken place in public office in recent years, and if so, what conditions allowed this to happen.
The CoI, in addition, will ensure that the territory’s governance is working fairly and in a transparent manner.
Commissioner Hickinbottom will, upon the completion of the CoI in January 2022, report his findings to the Governor, and if there is evidence of corruption, it could lead to criminal charges being laid through the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
So far, controversial matters such as the Tortola Pier Park Project, the Elmore Stoutt High School Wall, and the recent awarding of COVID-19 stimulus grants have been heard during live hearings.