Prime Minister Andrew Fahie questioned the apparent “rush” to run an audit of his government’s COVID-19 stimulus grants, arguing that ulterior motives may be underway.
During his appearance before the Commission of Inquiry (COI) yesterday, October 12, the Prime Minister hinted that the Office of the Auditor General may have conspired with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
Raab, who has responsibility for the British Overseas Territories portfolio, had publicly supported former Governor Augustus Jaspert’s decision to launch the investigation.
The Prime Minister said yesterday that the Auditor General’s report appeared to have been specially prepared for the IOC since it was never presented to Cabinet or the House of Assembly, as it had to be procedurally.
“How rushed with the report, Commissioner?” I didn’t know the rush was [that] she came to the commission of inquiry, âPrime Minister Fahie said.
“[The Auditor General was] trying to make a report in the midst of the worst pandemic in the last 100 years and speed it up. Nobody understands this acceleration until later, now that I realize that we have a report before the commission of inquiry. It (the report) did not come to Cabinet, it did not come to the House of Assembly but it did come to the Commission of Inquiry. And before that, the same things he’s trying to allude to is what Dominic Raab said when he went to the House of Commons. Everything is connected. So I have to come here to wash my government and my name. We must whitewash the people of the Virgin Islands. We do not steal money, âadded the Prime Minister.
My family and I have been humiliated and in danger
At the time, Fahie was asked why he was overly critical of the Auditor General’s report which, among other things, claimed that the stimulus package for farmers and fishermen was breaking procedure and inflating his payments to beneficiaries.
The Prime Minister was asked about this in the context of what the Auditor General might have known when preparing for the audit.
âConsidering the way the money was distributed and the lack of transparency, accountability and authority over payments, don’t you have some sympathy in general with the Auditor General’s report? Sir Gary asked.
But Prime Minister Fahie responded by asking if anyone showed sympathy for him and his family when corruption allegations were first made against the government.
“Commissioner, who has sympathy for the moment this whole investigation was launched on me, when my wife and my picture are left with marijuana and drugs and the world thinks the BVI has a prime minister who is a drug lord and a drug cartel? Who has sympathy for me? asked Premier Fahie.
When asked how this could have been the responsibility of the Auditor General, the Prime Minister answered the question.
Fahie said he was constantly asked questions about other people and insisted he had been through a lot as well.
Prime Minister Fahie also told the committee that he believed the Foreign Minister was putting his children in danger and said an apology was in order.
âThey are putting our family at risk and no one is studying this for us,â Fahie said.
Speaking further on the perceived “rush” to audit his government’s stimulus package, the prime minister said the auditor general should have waited and “cooler heads should have prevailed given the dire circumstances facing the territory is facing the onset of the pandemic “.
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