The police today (Tuesday, February 14) arrested a Customs official on suspicion of breach of trust.
The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) gave that indication late Tuesday evening but did not disclose the identity of the person in question.
It said: “The RVIPF executed warrants in relation to an ongoing investigation into irregularities with HM Customs. A 56-year-old male was today arrested on suspicion of Breach of Trust by a public official and subsequently released pending further information.”
No other information was provided. While the police did disclose the identity of the Customs official, BVI News was reliably informed that the person in question holds a very senior rank in the department.
This news comes months after Commissioner of His Majesty’s Customs, Wade Smith was placed on administrative leave. Authorities are yet to give any public explanation for the decision to bench Smith in the first place. However, the timing of the leave came months after the release of the controversial Commission of Inquiry
) report that resulted in the RVIPF opening several criminal investigations into multiple government departments and agencies.
Commissioner, Sir Gary Hickinbottom
had said in his report that he could not exclude the possibility that corruption may exist among officers in HM Customs and the Immigration Department.
“The environment in each – but particularly the former – is conducive to such,” Sir Gary said. As a remedy, Sir Gary recommended that “independent vetting of all current HM Customs and Immigration Officers at all levels needs to be undertaken on an urgent basis.”
Over the last weeks and months, multiple past and present public officers were charged with breach of trust concerning how they performed their duties during their time with the government. Among those charged are former Education Minister Myron Walwyn and the former Director of the International Affairs Secretariat in the Premier’s Office, Najan Christopher.