UK launches investigation into British Virgin Islands government corruption

A British judge will independently investigate allegations of corruption against the British overseas territories authorities in the Caribbean, including reports that $ 6.8 million of public money was spent on an airline that did not exist. BBC reports.

The investigation is expected to report in six months.

The UK Foreign Office has supported the convening of an independent commission of inquiry set up by the British Virgin Island’s governor Augustus Jaspert, under the leadership of Sir Gary Hickinbottom.

Allegations of misuse of taxpayer money, concerns about government procurement, political interference in public appointments and so-called climate of fear in public service will be investigated.

There is also claim among the allegations that a $ 40 million state fund for families affected by COVID-19 was looted by officials.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab noted that there is a «potential vulnerability of the islands to serious organised crime», citing a November 2020 discovery of a 2.35 tons haul of cocaine worth more than $250 million.

The secretary also pointed out that the UK government is responsible for ensuring the security and good governance of BVI.

The British Virgin Islands, located in the Caribbean to the east of Puerto Rico, is a remnant of former British Empire. The territory operates a parliamentary democracy and is self-governing.

A governor appointed by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, Gus Jaspert, has oversight of external affairs, defence, internal security, administration of the courts, the public service, elections, and disaster preparedness.