BVI Airways files deleted from gov’t server, Premier launching audit

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BVI Airways files deleted from gov’t server, Premier launching audit

Unread post by bimjim » Mon May 20, 2019

https://bvinews.com/stonewalled-bvi-air ... ing-audit/

Stonewalled: BVI Airways files deleted from gov’t server, Premier launching audit
Esther Durand
May 20, 2019

Premier and Minister of Finance Andrew Fahie said certain government files pertaining to the controversial deal between the previous NDP administration and BVI Airways cannot be found.

Responding to questions on the $7.2 million airline deal on Friday, Fahie said the documents were deleted from the hard drive of the government’s server.

The Premier did not state whether the files were deleted maliciously but said plans are underway to have them retrieved.

“I thought that this would have been a piece of cake … Since taking office, I have tried my best to try to get this information, but I have been stonewalled at every attempt. But I do however intend to be persistent in my attempts to get the information requested and will provide this Honourable House with the information once received.”

“I had more information from being in the Opposition than I have sitting down in the Premier’s Office because the staff hasn’t been able to put their hands on certain files.”

Fahie further said the challenges he is experiencing in sourcing the government documents on the deal is partly because the previous administration made arrangements with BVI Airways without the knowledge of the staff of the Ministry of Finance.

Internal audit to be launched

The Premier, however, said he will be better positioned to give information on BVI Airways by Thursday following an internal audit.

“Somebody has to have the information on this plane somewhere, and someone has to answer to the new government and take the questions that have been asked by the House more seriously,” he said.

“I’m surprised nobody has no placards marching about … I get confused when I hear a big thing over Premier’s new jeep for a $115,000 and $7.2 million gone and nobody marching, nobody angry and everybody singing Hakuna Matata,” Premier Fahie said.

Company got big contract to seek $$

In the meantime, Fahie said a company was hired to search for the funds.

“I met a contract for $200,000 on the eve of election again by the past administration hiring a company to go look for the $7.2 million. But they sign away, and they sent a new company to go look for the money, and they pay new monies to the company. But to date, they ain’t find the money.”

He explained that he was able to access the payments made to BVI Airways in 2016.

Of the $7.2 million, Fahie said $500,000 was paid on January 22 that year and $2,400,000 on March 11. Some $2.1 million on May 5, 2016, $2.7 million on July 15, and another August 26 on $200,000.

“What I do know that the extra information to it that it was paid outside the payment schedule, so the question I have been asked is how come? Who authorized it and why? Because there were terms and conditions to be met before each payment was issued, and they did not meet any of them, and they gone with all the money.”

About the BVI Airways deal

Back in January this year, then-Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said part of the $7.2 million was used to clear the airline’s debts.

Dr Smiths said at the time: “The money was not put in anyone’s pockets. No one got rich off the project.”

The NDP gave the airline the funds to commence non-stop flights from the territory to Miami. However, all promised dates for the commencement of those promised flights were missed.

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Re: BVI Airways files deleted from gov’t server, Premier launching audit

Unread post by bimjim » Mon May 20, 2019

http://www.virginislandsnewsonline.com/ ... rways-deal

Stonewalled! No paper trail in $7.2M BVI Airways deal
Premier Andrew A. Fahie in disbelief as no protest made even as key project files either missing or deleted
May 20th, 2019

ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI

Having now to answer for the $7.2M BVI Airways deal that crumbled under the previous Premier, Dr. D. Orlando Smith’s National Democratic Party (NDP) administration, Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) dropped a bombshell that even as the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) is now at the helm of government, little to no information can be found on the botched project and missing funds.

Premier Fahie was at the time speaking at the Friday, May 17, 2019, Third Sitting of the First Session of the Fourth HoA of the Virgin Islands (VI), when in responding to questioning from the representative of the Third District, Hon Julian Fraser, RA, he revealed that the files on BVI Airways have either been deleted or have gone completely missing from both the Ministry and at the Premier’s office and an investigation has been launched.

NDP Cleaned Tracks – Hon Fahie

“Mr Speaker, since taking office I have tried my best to get this information requested but have been stonewalled at every attempt, I do however Mr Speaker intend to be persistent with my attempts to get the information as requested and will provide this Honourable House with the information once received,” the Premier told to the House.

Hon Fahie was answering inquiries from Hon Fraser for a breakdown of fund disbursements to BVI Airways and to provide the House with the breakdown of how BVI Airways disposed of said funds.

While the Premier was unable to furnish the House with deep insight into the spending, he pointed to some personal research and existing information supplied while as a member of the Virgin Islands (VI) Opposition under the NDP’s 8-year rule.

Hon Fahie revealed the payments to BVI airways were as follows; January 22, 2016 - $500,000; March 11, 2016 – $2,400,000; May 5, 2016 – $2,100,000; July 15, 2016, $2,007,000; and August 26, 2016, $200,000, bringing to total figure to $7,202,000 expended into the project.

“I have asked for more information on this because the information to answer this question, came mainly from myself in my record… most of the information from the Ministry either missing or was on a hard drive and was deleted and I’ve asked… to get that backup,” he explained.

Surprise & Disbelief

The premier further revealed that he saw a $200K contract to a new company signed by the NDP on the eve of the February 25, 2019, General Elections to look for the missing $7.2M funds. “I don’t want to blacklist any company, but I’ll just say it raised a red flag. But to date, they ain’t find the money,” he said.

“This is not a joke, I’m surprised nobody have no plaque card marching about the $7.2M, I am utmostly surprised this just disappeared in thin air,” Premier Fahie said in response to a question posed by Opposition Member Honourable Julian Fraser RA (R3) during the Third Sitting of the First Session of the Fourth House of Assembly of the Virgin Islands on May 17, 2019.

“But as you ask me... I am going to give you the answers but I want to tell this Honourable House I had enough.”

While the premier noted that some figures were available, the majority on the project is completely missing, “The extra information to it [figures provided], that it was paid outside the payment schedule… The question I’ve been asking for years is how come, who authorised and why?” the Leader of Government Business implored.

Hon Fahie questioned what terms and conditions were met before each payment were issued, while noting that according to data no conditions were ever met, yet “they gone with all the money.”

“So I get confused when I hear a big thing over a Premier new Jeep for $115,000 and $7.2M gone and nobody marching, nobody angry and everybody singing Hakuna Matata,” Hon Fahie said.

Another NDP Cover-up?

The deal started in 2006, when former Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr Smith signed the $7M ‘give-away’ to the airline, in exchange for direct flights between Miami International Airport and Beef Island.

After missing three deadlines, it was revealed in the HoA by Dr Smith, that an additional $200,000 was added to the ‘pot,’ to open a Special Account.

With the initial $7M investment and the additional $200,000, taxpayers had lost a total of $7.2M with absolutely nothing to show.

With an investigation on the way, according to the Premier, Hon Fahie’s new revelation in the HoA has only but confirmed that the NDP may have orchestrated yet another cover-up of corruption that has plagued their history as a political party and Government in the Virgin Islands.

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Re: BVI Airways files deleted from gov’t server, Premier launching audit

Unread post by bimjim » Tue May 21, 2019

https://www.bviplatinum.com/news.php?articleId=30508

BVI Airways Files Missing; Premier Says Internal Audit Now
May 20, 2019

In what can be likened to a spring cleaning, the new administration has ordered that an internal audit commence today, May 20, to find details of the BVI Airways deal, which are reportedly missing.

In response to a series of questions about BVI Airways and the missing $7.2M from Opposition Member and Third District Representative, Hon. Julian Fraser, Premier Hon. Andrew Fahie explained to the House of Assembly that the files containing the information were deleted from the idrive.

The Premier, who for the last two years has been asking questions about the BVI Airways saga, while serving in the Opposition, said that he is astonished that his staff has been stonewalled in their search for information.

"My staff in the Premier’s Office work head in heels to help me as Premier, but the answers would make it seem as if they are not cooperating, but they are. A lot of things were done without most of their knowledge, so it is difficult for some of them to find some of this information. On the idrive is where they went, where the information is kept, but that has been deleted. So we are working feverishly to get that idrive retrieved and get it backed up so that we can get all of this information."

Therefore, the Premier stated that an audit is necessary at this time. In fact, he told the House of Assembly on Friday that the matter needs urgent attention.

"I will be calling an internal audit on Monday (May 20) morning to start to deal with some matters, so that we can get some accuracy and some clarity…because it seems like the powers that be that need to look into this either gone to sleep…"

Further the Premier hinted that he does not expect the search and sweep to be lengthy, as he hopes to have answers by Thursday. In fact, Hon. Fahie said that he must have answers and somebody has to answer him.

"The buck stops with me as Premier, so trust me when I tell you that somebody will have to answer me with what has happened with the Territory’s $7.2M, so give me until next week Thursday."

Nonetheless, the Premier assured Hon. Fraser that the answers will be coming soon, and admitted that he was surprised to see that the information disappeared.

"I thought this would have been a piece of cake to get this information for you, because I can’t tell you when as yet, but I will better be able to tell you by when next week is finished, because somebody has to have information about this plane somewhere, and someone has to answer to the new Government with all the questions and they have to take the questions that's been asked by the House of Assembly more seriously.”

Additionally, Hon. Fahie disclosed that a last minute contract was done to recoup the money that was expended in the BVI Airways deal. In bringing up the matter, he told the House, "I want to tell this Honourable House I’ve had enough and the Governor's in charge of his section, but I have met a contract for $200,000 on the eve of election again, by the past administration, hiring a company to go look after for the $7.2M that they signed away. A new company to go look for the money that they sent away and pay new money to the company.”

"I didn’t want to blacklist any company, but I’ll just say it raised a red flag. But to date they aint find the money, but I’ve been made to understand they have more access to the idrive. I’ve been made to understand because this is what I’ve been told. I hope it isn’t so, but at the Premier’s Office it's deleted,” he added.

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Re: BVI Airways files deleted from gov’t server, Premier launching audit

Unread post by bimjim » Tue May 21, 2019

https://bvinews.com/not-true-former-pre ... ts-server/

‘Not true!’ Former Premier says no BVI Airways information was deleted from govt’s server
May 21, 2019

Former Premier Dr D Orlando Smith is refuting recent claims by his successor, Premier Andrew Fahie, that files from BVI Airways were ‘deleted’ from government’s servers; seemingly before the VIP took office.

The former NDP government leader made that assertion on Tuesday in what is believed to be his first public statement since retiring from representational politics back in February.

Dr Smith said: “No information relative to BVI Airways has been removed from governments I drive, save for copies of answers to questions which were delivered in the House of Assembly and reported in the press, and are easily retrievable.”

He also hit back at claims by Premier Fahie suggesting that the Smith administration made arrangements with BVI Airways without the knowledge of the Ministry of Finance.

“It would also not be true to say that the Ministry of Finance was not kept in the loop, as this was the Ministry that was at the forefront of the discussions with BVI Airways,” Dr Smith added.

And while commenting on the firm his administration had hired to recover the $7.2 million lost to the controversial airline, Dr Smith said: “I did promise that I would seek to recover monies spent on BVI Airways, and after much deliberation with Cabinet and the Attorney General’s office, a firm was selected in August of last year to do so — long before an election date was even considered.”

While the suggestion was made during Premier Fahie’s statement to the House of Assembly last Friday, he did not explicitly state whether the files were deleted maliciously nor did he specify when they were removed.

About the airline scandal

BVI Airways received $7.2 million from the former NDP government to commence direct flights between the BVI and Miami in the USA. However, the airline later laid off its staff; claiming that it needed more money to fly. The monies have not been recouped.

The botched airline deal has been perceived to be the single greatest scandal to hit the Smith administration.

Below is Dr Smith’s full statement

Good afternoon I have seen reports in the Media on what was said in relation to BVI Airways. I have answered many questions in the House of Assembly on BVI Airways, and I have made several statements on the matter.

Suffice to say No information relative to BVI Airways has been removed from Governments I drive, save for copies of answers to Questions which were delivered in the House of Assembly and reported in the press, and are easily retrievable. It would also not be true to say that the Ministry of Finance was not kept in the loop, as this was the Ministry that was at the forefront of the discussions with BVI Airways.

I did promise that I would seek to recover monies spent on BVI Airways, and after much deliberation with cabinet and the AGs office a firm was selected in August of last year to do so. Long before an election date was even considered

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