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Gov’t hires $400,000 UK Lawyer! Value for money?

-Michael Furness QC to assist in EU blacklist
The National Democratic Party (NDP) Government of outgoing Premier, Dr the Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) has hired United Kingdom (UK) Lawyer, Michael Furness, QC to the tune of $400,000. Photo: Internet Source
Former Permanent Secretary, Mr Julian Willock (left) and outgoing Premier, Dr the Hon Orlando D. Smith (AL). Photo: VINO/File
Former Permanent Secretary, Mr Julian Willock (left) and outgoing Premier, Dr the Hon Orlando D. Smith (AL). Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - The National Democratic Party (NDP) Government of outgoing Premier, Dr the Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) has hired United Kingdom (UK) Lawyer, Michael Furness, QC to the tune of $400,000.

While the full information or breakdown of the price tag was not given to the public, this publication understands Cabinet hired Mr Furness without any tender process.

The UK Queen’s Council was hired to assist the Territory avoid the European Union (EU) tax-avoidance Blacklist, by coming up with a legislative solution. 

It's unclear who recommended the UK Attorney or whether anyone else was considered at a lower cost but Premier Smith in justifying the huge cost, told reporters, “we selected somebody who was highly recommended, as an expert in the area.”

Broke Treasury

He was speaking at the time, at a press briefing held on Monday, October 1, 2018.

The former Chairman of the NDP and Co Leader of Government business did not however give details by name of who recommended Mr Furness and how his Government—with a broke Treasury—will foot that Bill.

In March of 2018 EU Financial Ministers placed the Virgin Islands (VI) on a ‘grey list’ of jurisdictions they believe do not abide by their anti-tax-avoidance stands.

They have given the VI until the end of 2018 to address their issues or face full blacklisting.

Usual double standards-Julian Willock

Mr Julian Willock, a former Permanent Secretary and businessman who often speaks to the international press about the VI’s Financial sector said, “this is just another example of where the EU are asking that we comply with standards they themselves do not uphold.”

He insists “it’s unfair, it’s the big countries trying to take advantage of the smaller ones adding more financial burden on us.”

Mr Willock said the EU is “well aware of our well-regulated jurisdiction, but that does not matter to them”, they want to shut us down and that is the bottom line.”

 “Once we agreed to the new demands, it will not stop there” Mr Willock—who will be running for office in the next election—stated.


16 Responses to “Gov’t hires $400,000 UK Lawyer! Value for money? ”

  • watcher (06/10/2018, 15:25) Like (9) Dislike (3) Reply
    Good points mr willock
  • Hmmmm (06/10/2018, 15:43) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
    Hope he was working with a local firm for 2 reasons, For learning and teaching and for leaving some of that Large amount on the Island.
    • think (06/10/2018, 22:57) Like (9) Dislike (3) Reply
      Firstly, his job is incredibly pivotal to the future economy of the BVI and the government need the best man for the job. Second, actually 100k more or less is insignificant when you compare what is at stake as well as being low for top legal pay in London.
      Third, his work will be there for all to learn from no matter whether it is ultimately successful.
      Fourth, he cannot and will not live here without leaving a serious portion of that in the economy.
      Finally, yes Gerry and others are working on the project. We are only suffering so much because we refused to have leading international figures at the top of the FSC and shaping the services range whereas others like Cayman, who still missed some opportunities playing the race card, finally decided to get things done. Now they have a much more diverse financial services and more diverse and robust economy.
  • vex (06/10/2018, 15:50) Like (7) Dislike (16) Reply
    The esteem on point
  • Ttp (07/10/2018, 03:17) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
    A local firm needs to be involve. There is a loop hole here for a “oops”. A local firm will be relatable and can speak from experiences and previous laws.

    A local firm can also add a sense of direction to where they want it to be

    Then, Mr. UK Lawyer can run with those information to come with most plausible solutions
    • HWR (08/10/2018, 14:16) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      I'm not sure his wife would want him working closely with one local firm.
  • DEADLINE (07/10/2018, 06:45) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    "this publication understands Cabinet hired Mr Furness without any tender process.". Considering what's at stake here and a deadline of 31 December 2018, would it have been practical to go through a tender process? Just ain't easy being a great leader.
  • biker (07/10/2018, 09:02) Like (2) Dislike (4) Reply
    Hopefully Mr. Furness's $400k fee is contingent upon his legal expertise to keep the BVI off the EU 'blacklist' and also removed from the current EU 'greylist'. If his legal efforts are unsuccessful then no payment of the $400k fee. Since there was no contract 'tendering' process for other UK lawyers then a contingency fee is a fair payment method for this last minute legal solution.
  • wize up (07/10/2018, 17:32) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    how broke are we: good move because the funds go back to the UK: will a uk firm be hired to fix the infrastructure: keep the money Britain
  • NezRez (07/10/2018, 18:10) Like (4) Dislike (5) Reply
    $400,000. $400,000 &400,000? Do you know how many roofs that could put back on? You all who have a roof need to shut up! You don’t know our plight and I don’t care what you say. He can be paid wayyyyyyyy less.
  • vex (07/10/2018, 22:52) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
    Looks fishy
  • Charley Rose (08/10/2018, 01:02) Like (3) Dislike (5) Reply
    The initiative to hire a British Lawyer to represent the territory in the wake of the ruling of the British government to make the Financial Service report the names of the beneficial owner of persons who have accounts in the BVI is perhaps one of the most fundamental waste of taxpayers money.

    Knowing that the British government has already made its ruling in relation to this matter in the House of Lords, it will require the British government to return to the House of Lords and reverse the decision that they have made. It is unlikely that such a measure will be taken.

    Perhaps the Premier should have done some discussions with some of the leading Queen's Counsels in the territory to obtain their opinions before going to London to obtain legal service and spend money that may or may not resolve the matter. I wonder where is Mrs. Parson. She is extremely quiet in recent time.
  • ..... (08/10/2018, 09:50) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    government spend so much money... but yet this country continue to go down hill. tsk tsk
  • mr loophole (08/10/2018, 14:17) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I hope that the honourable silk received a retainer for his work.
  • You heard it here first (08/10/2018, 15:06) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Companies will be determined as active or passive. Active will need to file accounts. Thank you, please remit my $400,000 (aka cut and paste)
  • Xxx (08/10/2018, 20:34) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    Rip off

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