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Ports Project has ‘numerous irregularities & questionable payments’ – PAC report

- The Public Accounts Committee endorses the Auditor General’s Report on the Ports Development Project saying it has merit & calls for further in-depth investigations
The Public Accounts Committee’s Special Report on the Ports Development Project will be laid on the table of the House of Assembly of the Virgin Islands by Chairman, Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal OBE, at the Sixth Sitting of the Third Session of the Second House of Assembly scheduled for Thursday April 17, 2014. Photo: VINO
The Deputy Financial Secretary Mr. Wendell M. Gaskin (left) and Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority Claude O. Skelton-Cline were two of the persons interviewed by the Public Accounts Committee. Mr. Gaskin represents the Financial Secretary on the BVI Ports Authority Board and has been very involved in the Ports Development Project. The PAC report stated that it found “evidence given by persons interviewed to be very informative and for the most part, alarming to state the least.” Photo: VINO/File
The Deputy Financial Secretary Mr. Wendell M. Gaskin (left) and Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority Claude O. Skelton-Cline were two of the persons interviewed by the Public Accounts Committee. Mr. Gaskin represents the Financial Secretary on the BVI Ports Authority Board and has been very involved in the Ports Development Project. The PAC report stated that it found “evidence given by persons interviewed to be very informative and for the most part, alarming to state the least.” Photo: VINO/File
Both the former Chairman of the BVI Ports Authority Mr. Gregory W. Adams (left) the current Chair J. Edward DeCastro were interviewed by the PAC. The PAC report found numerous apparent irregularities and questionable circumstances and actions with regards to the project in question which gave rise to the call for further investigations. Photo: VINO/File
Both the former Chairman of the BVI Ports Authority Mr. Gregory W. Adams (left) the current Chair J. Edward DeCastro were interviewed by the PAC. The PAC report found numerous apparent irregularities and questionable circumstances and actions with regards to the project in question which gave rise to the call for further investigations. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Report on the Ports Development Project has hit the streets of the Virgin Islands and will be laid on the Table of the House of Assembly on Thursday April 17, 2014, according to the Order Paper obtained by this news site.

The Interim special report of the Committee chaired by Leader of the Opposition Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal OBE, makes some serious allegations as it relates to the controversial Ports Development Project extension, a signature pet project of the National Democratic Party (NDP) Government.

The PAC Report

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) interviewed many persons including Sonia M. Webster the Auditor General who also raised the alarm in her own report last year; Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority Claude O. Skelton-Cline; Gregory W. Adams former Board Chairman; Wendell M. Gaskin Deputy Financial Secretary; Gene E. Creque the former Deputy Managing Director of the Ports and Chairman of the Board J. Edward DeCastro among many others.

From interviewing these many persons the PAC made it clear in its report that the evidence given was both informative and “alarming to state the least.”

The Committee’s examinations, thus far, of the project have “revealed that there have been numerous apparent irregularities and questionable circumstances and actions [with] regards to the project in question” and calls for further investigations.

The report also found to be true that the BVI Ports Authority Board’s duties and responsibilities were “usurped” and concluded that the Board “was excluded from important decisions in regards to the project.”

The PAC examinations thus far according to their report revealed “that the process for the engagement of consulting and contracting companies seems not to have been properly documented.”

Over $1.7 Million gone!

In the report obtained by this news site the PAC stated, “thus far the absence of full transparency and apparent withholding of important requested information from the PAC…brings into question whether the correct procedures were followed and are being followed.”

Another serious issue that raised the red flag for the committee is what the report described as the “many questionable payments including but not limited to the approximately $1.7 million dollars to Tortola Pier Partners and the variable and increasing payments and employment of PriceWaterhouseCoopers and called for these matters to be further investigated.”

The Report stated that its examinations unearthed, “the escalating cost of the project from a total of $12 million dollars to in excess of $30 million dollars, excluding the land side development, is excessive, unsubstantiated and/or insufficiently justified based on the information provided to the Committee thus far.”

The report by the five-member PAC with Hon. O’Neal as the Chairman said it finds that the concerns raised by the Auditor General Ms. Sonia M. Webster in the Auditor General Report dated January 31, 2013 on the Port Development Project have merit and required in-depth investigations.

The Auditor General's Report of last year on the Ports Development Project unearthed corruption, conflict of interest, disregard for the laws of the Virgin Islands, unfair practices, undue influence in favour of one developer, disregard for the established tendering process and found that no one was looking out for the interest of the people and taxpayers of the Virgin Islands, putting the people at a disadvantage.

It remains unclear if the PAC’s call for ‘further in-depth investigations” meant that they were referring to a Commission of Inquiry that is usually set up by the Governor.

More to come this week on the PAC Report

Please see Virgin Islands News Online link to original Auditor General Report article

66 Responses to “Ports Project has ‘numerous irregularities & questionable payments’ – PAC report”

  • NDP must go (14/04/2014, 09:30) Like (22) Dislike (3) Reply
    NDP must not only go- NDP must be investigated- these moo moo gon cause UK to step in if they not careful - this what you get when rat guard cheese-
  • Gecko (14/04/2014, 09:42) Like (14) Dislike (1) Reply
    This finding is very important because it points out the favouritism and procedures practiced frequently by government. I hope that after these findings which I don't doubt, that Hon. O'Neal himself is more careful moving forward so his walk matches the talk. But these pay offs, and self-serving projects defining the NDP have got to stop. No wonder monies are lost and can't be tracked. Seems the Minister in the 4th has more input than the port authority itself. Then again, the port authority director seemed planted there to do the government's bidding. this whole project is corrupt. We can't even take care of the masses off cruise ships now. How can we possibly take care of an additional 4000 a day with the bigger ships? The promise was that the extension was "free" because it was being paid for by the cruise lines- hence the agreement. Pay out of $1.7 mil to TPP for their plans which aren't appropriate, is excessive. Again, investors and developers have the upper hand over a government that doesn't know how to navigate the project.
    • dog (14/04/2014, 22:00) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
      and yet the government pushes forward in signing yet another agreement with Canadian and BVI-based companies to expand the dock, fill in shore land for board walk and do "some shop development". They have totally ignored any report or have tried to straighten it out. The companies are getting the bank loans. What are they getting out of the deal?
  • just asking.... (14/04/2014, 09:42) Like (12) Dislike (1) Reply
    My my my I am speech less so both the Auditor General and the Public Accounts committee came to the same conclusion…Where is the Governor?
  • faith (14/04/2014, 09:47) Like (30) Dislike (36) Reply
    Fahie & Christopher needs to go sit down. They could talk about project over-run? Look at the Beef Island Bridge, Purcell Ghut, Purcell Community Center, The Hospital (it was because of the changes they made, the hospital went into over-run)., The great wall of Sea Cows Bay, Brewers Bay Tennis Court...who are they to talk about over-run? This is just a ploy to try ans top the cruize project and they say they are working and have interest in their people? Wheel and come again boys
    • fish (14/04/2014, 10:26) Like (17) Dislike (4) Reply
      Mvw get loss you going trust me!
      • tell the truth (15/04/2014, 06:54) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
        I wonder where are all the politicians who have said certain freedom of expression sicken them to their stomach? Let’s see if this level of corruption sickens them also!
    • yes (14/04/2014, 10:44) Like (3) Dislike (10) Reply
      You are correct and guess what? The Governor knows better and he won't waste his time with this folly. The project will be starting in a few weeks on dockside. Watch and weep, progress is a MUST!
    • @ faith (14/04/2014, 10:45) Like (12) Dislike (2) Reply
      Lol ha ha lawd ah mussy the NDP paid bloggers out early but that dog will not hunt this time...Too much corruption
    • wize up (14/04/2014, 17:21) Like (2) Dislike (6) Reply
      "faith" talk the truth and i agree with you 100000000000%....the VIP cant talk; the HISTORY is there and it speaks about BAD spending and crime under the VIP....airport project !!!!!!
      • @ wize up (15/04/2014, 07:02) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
        CRIME goes up only under the NDP check the record from 2003-2007 and 2011 to current how much of our locals were killed
    • dem say (15/04/2014, 05:29) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
      I tire of ago talking about the past…the ndp promised chNGED AND GOVERNMENT IN THE SUNSHINE…THEY TEN TIMES WORSE
  • xxxxxxxx (14/04/2014, 09:50) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
    the NDP should hurry up and create a law making this ports project going forward illegal
    • @ xxxxxxxx (14/04/2014, 18:40) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      What you further do not understand is that laws make no sense if they are not enforced - just think about THE bvi's anti litter and environmental laws.
  • Voters (14/04/2014, 10:05) Like (18) Dislike (1) Reply
    Problem? vino you got balls there media censir bill did not work
  • bay yute (14/04/2014, 10:27) Like (12) Dislike (2) Reply
    Tis only now we should where the t shirts
  • Yes (14/04/2014, 10:42) Like (1) Dislike (2) Reply
    • @ lol (14/04/2014, 11:30) Like (8) Dislike (2) Reply
      Samething I did while wondering when will someone go to jail over this project!!!
      • weed (14/04/2014, 12:23) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
        I agree about the bombast. It does nothing
      • @LOL (14/04/2014, 21:44) Like (2) Dislike (6) Reply
        If no one aint went jail over the Purcell Ghut, Brewers Bay Project, Hannah's Reclamation or Beef Island Bridge, then no one will go to jail over this... This project will move on.
  • mother hen (14/04/2014, 10:43) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
    Let us be clear that this ports project is at war with the people and who was promsied what!
  • Release (14/04/2014, 11:10) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    the BVI is gone.
    • conflict (14/04/2014, 12:43) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
      It is most instructive that the head of the Ports was the same guy at the ministry advised Mark about this project and company
  • NDP All the way (14/04/2014, 11:31) Like (8) Dislike (2) Reply
    There goes your governmentin the sun shine
  • JACK BE STILL (14/04/2014, 11:55) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
    I smell a rat...
    • Shara Parlin (14/04/2014, 18:38) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
  • Yes (14/04/2014, 12:04) Like (13) Dislike (25) Reply
    When will they investigate the Sea Cows Bay Harbour project which went ahead without approvals but using Government funds? The Cruise Pier is going forward and that's a fact. Let's hear about the illegal developments using Government monies man.
  • AC 360 (14/04/2014, 12:40) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    The only thing likely to end through this is the UK take over the BVI
  • spanish inquisition (14/04/2014, 12:45) Like (11) Dislike (1) Reply
    come on "LOL" Nice try to change the subject from the NDP corruption but we will NEVER be fool again NEVER
  • Preacher man (14/04/2014, 12:52) Like (10) Dislike (2) Reply
    Corruption and misuse of Public funds will run rampant in the BVI until the Attorney General Office start to put their a$$ses in jail. The problem is that the ruling government chooses the Attorney General, so that individual is that government Attorney General. He/she does not have free will to operate independently and objectively. Our beautiful country is going to hell .
  • ooooo (14/04/2014, 13:41) Like (11) Dislike (7) Reply
    old father left millions in the port coffers....where the money gone??????
  • voter (14/04/2014, 13:54) Like (16) Dislike (1) Reply
    The dirty stinking stench of corruption raises its head again in this project
  • cay (14/04/2014, 13:54) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
    This whole project started off wrong!
  • crazy (14/04/2014, 13:56) Like (11) Dislike (2) Reply
    How we going let a Detroit Rat mind BVI cheese? It will disappear no doubt.
    • for real (14/04/2014, 18:49) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
      We have to be aware of all our people in certain officers who trying to get rich quick and protect the public money from them like fort Knox. what a shame
  • UK (14/04/2014, 14:23) Like (1) Dislike (2) Reply
    Uk cannot take over they have more major problems
    • asura (14/04/2014, 15:40) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
      Let's bet if the ndp gets back in the uk will take over the bvi let's have a bet yall
  • Shaun (14/04/2014, 14:32) Like (7) Dislike (14) Reply
    The BVI is very toxic. I need to remind my people that what is written on these news sites are read by persons near and afar. If we are not careful the BVI will be destroyed from within.
    • @ Shaun (14/04/2014, 18:00) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
      Boss scatter from here with your hog wash from always chatting some cock-may-may...jeez um bread you think only bvi has online news sites and blogs? We not going let deeds people hoodwink and bamooze us while raping millions and millions and millions from we in tis ports project!!! So go suck an egg deman
  • NDP supporter (14/04/2014, 14:44) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    this is very concerning to me that you can have this kind is things going on in a government that is supposed to be in the Sun Shine. The Government has a lot of explaining to do. Dr Smith how do you explain the Pac report. I know you recognise by now Doc that your ship is sinking and rest assured i not voting for you again.
  • Miss P (14/04/2014, 15:43) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    Look how deeds people with greed has destroy the bvi locally, regionally and internationally boss I taught down the islands had corruption but bvi takes the lead again and the ndp is know for corruption!
  • Village Girl (14/04/2014, 18:36) Like (2) Dislike (3) Reply
    The British MUST take over the BVI this is too much
  • my two cents (14/04/2014, 20:51) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    Need a bigger jail
  • one eye (14/04/2014, 20:57) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    Uncle ralph wake up finally but little too late
  • HELLO!! (14/04/2014, 21:50) Like (3) Dislike (9) Reply
    It amazes how some of you dont like to read but just listen to hog wash. The now port is an up grade from the measly 12 million dollar one they had proposed first, so of course it would cost more money. Funny how all of you now talking about corruption..where were your mouth pieces when all the corruption was going on under VIP..when they signed million of dollars in contracts the day before election. Everyone of their projects went over from the projected amounts and you all here talking...truppsss
    • @ HELLO!! (15/04/2014, 06:38) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
      You are a fool and sound so stupid...So your argument is VIP was corrupt so it’s ok for NDP to practice the same corruption…Boss we voted for change but we got the knife in the treasury!
    • Preacher man (15/04/2014, 19:16) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      It sound like you protecting something, because you have to be deaf, dumb and blind to not see what is going on in this country. Corruption is at the highest that I have ever seen it. I live through the VIP government, and what is happening under NDP top the whole periods that the VIP governed.. Haiti, Guyana and Trinidad pale in comparison to the Corrupt NDP government in the BVI. Corruption is bigger than the size of the BVI. What a damn shame.. Btw, only people who are getting their share of what is being plundered from the public, don't see anything wrong.
  • open wide (14/04/2014, 22:50) Like (3) Dislike (4) Reply
    Same ole same old NDP or VIP same ole money grapping people
  • dem say (15/04/2014, 05:23) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    Mark picture needs to be there too!!!
  • one eye rooster (15/04/2014, 06:45) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    In other words, money rules, and issues like the mentally ill and lack of jobs are just political chess pieces.
  • dpp (15/04/2014, 07:16) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    Dpp is not going to bring criminal charges again no government. They on contract
  • Just shameful (15/04/2014, 07:17) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    Too bad the NDP and theirs will not be the only ones to suffer the consequences of their action; instead, we will all suffer. We, our children, and our grandchildren will suffer and have only the NDP to blame for their denial and their refusal to protect us from this kind of behavior
  • rum shop (15/04/2014, 11:23) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    If the PAC and the Auditor general saying the same thing then there must be some truth to this melee…
  • pine (15/04/2014, 12:44) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Hope no one cover this up
  • ABC (15/04/2014, 16:05) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    OMG!!! How can this be! This project is sheduled for a April 15th start up and up to today no money has been approved by this Government or the FCO. The Port is dead broke, the Central Government can't help itself and the UK is sitting tight just looking on. When will the contract be signed with Meridian ? Where are the piles and who will pay? This sounds like a done deal just like the Airport.
    What is the Government waiting for? Send this man back to DETROIT!! He only up at the Port playing King Soloman with a thousaand wives.
  • error (15/04/2014, 17:53) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Can't wait to get a copy of this report
  • we the people (16/04/2014, 20:05) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    hear the NDP will try to dismiss this report but we the public wating for them
  • ........ (18/04/2014, 07:19) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Did you all heard mark trying to defend this? Shame on he!
  • bbc (18/04/2014, 21:24) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Now on to the substance of this news item - this is heartless what some people are doing the BVI

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