Was Premier Smith truthful about owners of BVI Airways?
- - Premier Smith never mentioned Shaun David Munro as one of the owners, or a Luke Aaron Smith as a Managing Director, but both appear on trade license
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI
The saga of the BVI Airways dba ‘BV Airways’ and tax payers $7.2 Million give away continues. Our investigation has uncovered some information that we will report in a series of articles, including about a Minister of Government’s close involvement to the BVI Airways deal.
The Government official, who we will name, even lent his title to letters of recommendation. We will also reveal the role of Sachkia Barnes from Barnes PR, who had denied a BVI Beacon reporter access to the pubic open house the airline hosted, and other local players.
In December 2015, the government of the Virgin Islands (VI) entered into an agreement with BVI Airways and injected into the foreign company $7 million, which Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D Orlando Smith (AL) signed and said that it will be given incrementally over two years to help the company get off the ground.
In exchange, BVI Airways was to provide direct flights between Miami International Airport, Florida, USA and Terrence B. Lettsome International on Beef Island, VI.
To date, the deal has collapsed as flights were to start in October 2016. However, within six months, not two years, BVI Airways had the full $7.2 M in hand with an increase of $200,000 fees for an account. According to the contract, the $7 million was supposed to act as a guarantee that BVI Airways got an annual return on investment of 20 percent in its first three years of existence.
Dr Smith did not tell all
At a House of Assembly (HoA) meeting in 2016 former Opposition Leader Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3), in a series of questions about BVI Airways, requested the names of all the company’s investors, but Dr Smith declined.
“I am not able to provide the names of all of the investors in BVI Airways, as these would have various ownership stakes in the venture that do not require disclosure,” Dr Smith said at the time according to HoA records. “However, what I can do is provide the names of the main principals of the venture. These individuals have made full disclosures so that the requisite due diligence would be conducted.”
Two new names!
Dr Smith named BVI Airways Director Bruce Bradley, CEO Jerry Willoughby, Acting Executive Vice President Pauline Jones, Director Scott Weisman, Chief Operating Officer Scott DeLacy, and Project Director Shaun Munro as principals.
However, according to a Trade License obtained by our newsroom, among many other documents on the scandal riddled BVI Airways, it shows Mr Munro is an owner and partner.
It is unclear why Mr Munro was named by Premier Smith in his 2016 response to questions in the HoA at the time, long after the trade license was approved, as just a “Project Director.”
In addition, there is a Luke Aaron Smith on the trade license as a Managing Director who was not named in Dr Smith’s responses.
It’s important to note that Mr Luke A. Smith was a part of the first BVI Airways that pulled out of the Territory’s Terrence B. Lettsome Airport in 2014 claiming they were bankrupt and left owing the BVI Airports Authority some $100,000 in fees. However, Mr Smith was back with the new BVI Airways dba BV Airways, as its Managing Director, and it appears no one saw this as something to challenge.