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Taxpayers saddled with over $100M payouts in lawsuits against Gov’t!

- Court cases against Gov't climb at an alarming rate due to blatant violations of rights of individuals & corporations
Lawsuits and payouts against the National Democratic Party (NDP) Administration under Premier Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith (left) have been racking up. Right: Governor John S. Duncan OBE. Photo: VINO/File
From left: Regional General Manager of Delta Petroleum Bevis A. Sylvester and Attorney General Baba Aziz. A broke NDP Government may now have to pay as high as $60M in claims as well as legal fees for losing their case against Delta Petroleum at the Privy Council. Photo: VINO/GIS
From left: Regional General Manager of Delta Petroleum Bevis A. Sylvester and Attorney General Baba Aziz. A broke NDP Government may now have to pay as high as $60M in claims as well as legal fees for losing their case against Delta Petroleum at the Privy Council. Photo: VINO/GIS
It is not clear at this time if the family of Valda Stewart (right) who died earlier this year while waiting on emergency care at Peebles Hospital is seeking compensation from Government. Photo: VINO/Facebook
It is not clear at this time if the family of Valda Stewart (right) who died earlier this year while waiting on emergency care at Peebles Hospital is seeking compensation from Government. Photo: VINO/Facebook
Mr Wilfred M. Smith said his project was scheduled to be completed in September 2015 and the delay is causing him to lose money. Photo: VINO/File
Mr Wilfred M. Smith said his project was scheduled to be completed in September 2015 and the delay is causing him to lose money. Photo: VINO/File
Former Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA), Claude O. Skelton-Cline has a lawsuit pending against Government. Right: Minister for Communications and Works Hon Mark H. Vanterpool (R4), who had allegedly promised Mr Skelton-Cline his contract would be renewed after the 2015 snap elections. Photo: VINO/File
Former Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA), Claude O. Skelton-Cline has a lawsuit pending against Government. Right: Minister for Communications and Works Hon Mark H. Vanterpool (R4), who had allegedly promised Mr Skelton-Cline his contract would be renewed after the 2015 snap elections. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- Many in the media, civil society, the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Opposition and talk show hosts have accused both Governor John S. Duncan OBE and the National Democratic Party (NDP) Administration of Premier Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) of consistent and blatant disregard for law and order, the Virgin Islands (VI) Constitution and the rights of individuals.

This new culture created after the 2011 election that saw the NDP taking power, included cracking down on press freedom by passing a Cyber Bill to put journalists in jail, Governor Duncan’s routine violations of the constitution and his double standards on law and rules enforcement, some Legislators’ public attack on commerce, citizens, continued victimisation of civil servants, and the allegation of blatant corruption, financial mismanagement, and conflict of interest.

This chickens have now come home to roost, costing taxpayers millions and millions in an already cash strapped Administration, that many say is broke because of maladministration of the Territory's finances.

Governor Duncan to his credit confirmed mismanagement of the Territory’s finances in a series of letters to the Premier and Minister of Finance Hon Smith and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) obtained by several media houses.

In one of the letters, Mr Duncan warned the Dr Smith 6-year-old regime (2011-current] that if the reckless spending does not stop he will no longer be able to defend the VI’s financial position to the FCO.

Lawsuits against government increase

Over the past five years, because of the culture of this Government of ‘anything goes’, successful lawsuits against the NDP Administration by private individuals and corporations have resulted in government having to pay out more than 100 million United States Dollars.

Most often the Attorney General or the Office of the Public Prosecutor will appeal all the way up the United Kingdom based Privy Council, the VI’s final court.

A most recent case was between Delta Petroleum (BVI) Limited and the VI Government where Delta won at the Privy Council level in a case involving the illegal seizure of a Delta fuel tank by the HM Customs Department.

The final appeal was taken to the Privy Council by the Attorney General after the Court of Appeal overturned the lower court’s decision that was in favour of Government.

With the Delta Petroleum win, Government may now have to pay as high as $60M in claims as well as legal fees.

Another appealed case that was caused by the current Government after they took power in 2011 was that of E. M. Watts. The previous VIP administration purchased a piece of land from E. M. Watts Development Company to build a ferry terminal in West End on Tortola. Once the NDP took power they abandoned the deal and the company made a $7Million claim for breach of contract.

The Court of Appeal granted E.M. Watts Development some $6Million. However, in an interesting twist, E.M. Watts Development went to the UK based Privy Council saying the lower court had undervalued the property and the Privy Council gave permission for the final court to hear the arguments.

Claims rack up against Government

There are other countless claims that the court had ordered government to pay, including to a family who lost their baby at the Tortola based public Peebles Hospital. The body of the family’s baby girl was disposed by health workers without the knowledge of the parents.

In addition, in keeping with the blatant disregard for individual’s rights and upholding of the constitution, an area where this news site has consistently reported on, the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) has faced a long list of lawsuits from the public and even from their own officers.

Some of the lawsuits on the violation of officers and residents’ rights overlap from the current to the former Governor.

The government will have to come up with over $500,000 after the Police admitted that they wrongfully arrested a man, Shawn Chinnery, in June 2013 and seized his boat. The court of course ordered Mr Chinnery to be compensated following his lawsuit.

There are many claims still pending, including from a former Magistrate Charmaine Rosan-Bunbury who was unlawfully dismissed from her job and victimised and is seeking over $27M in compensation.

There is also young Virgin Islander businessman Wilfred M. Smith Jr who returned home to invest in his place of birth but his project, a drive through restaurant located in Slaney on Tortola, was reportedly blocked by a Government agency.

Mr Smith is seeking some $1.1M for loss of income, money invested and potential business earnings as his project was stopped by the powerful Town and Country Planning Department, an agency that falls under Premier Smith.

More to come; poor taxpayers

Then there is another pending lawsuit by the former Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA), Claude O. Skelton-Cline. He is claiming to have had legitimate expectations on a contract renewal after the Ports Board made a recommendation for renewal, however, he was told by some Ministers of Government to wait until after the 2015 snap elections. Once the election was over and the NDP won he was told his contract would not be renewed as the Government wants to take the BVIPA in a different direction.

The court has already granted him permission to proceed with a Judicial Review. If his case is successful it could be another $20M pay out.

While the BVI Health Services Authority (BVIHSA) is tight-lipped over the incident of a woman who died earlier this year while waiting on emergency care at Peebles Hospital, it could be another huge payout to the family.

Outside of what is made public via the court and public information, there have been other countless claims settled on the public purse for Government’s mistakes that are addressed by the Cabinet and the Ministry of Finance but never come to the public. That too, according to information obtained by our newsroom, is in the millions between 2011 to current.

In addition, when Government loses cases they will have to pay for legal costs, adding more money to the claim bill.

The conclusion here is the culture of disrespect for residents and corporations' constitutional rights continues to cost taxpayers dearly.

36 Responses to “Taxpayers saddled with over $100M payouts in lawsuits against Gov’t!”

  • uhm (28/11/2016, 13:01) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    Unless this money comes put of he pockets of the elected representatives this is a waste of time
    • the rock (29/11/2016, 00:38) Like (9) Dislike (9) Reply
      look at who is doing the suing, a bunch of greedy a$$ tolians, the tradition continues from one generation to the next!
  • lord o. (28/11/2016, 13:02) Like (38) Dislike (1) Reply
    The attorney general is a waste and shameful.. The NDP government is a careless, reckless, Heartless bunch of spoil Bananas.. Why we poor tax payers are made to suffer like this Lord?
  • voter (28/11/2016, 13:08) Like (21) Dislike (0) Reply
    The paying aint start yet
  • Reporter (28/11/2016, 13:32) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    Lots of them were paid hush hush money too
  • more to come (28/11/2016, 13:42) Like (14) Dislike (1) Reply
    More lawsuits to come,stay tune.
  • Saw Da (28/11/2016, 13:42) Like (14) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is just the smoke the fire ain't start yet, B wee i brace ya selves the worst is yet to come..$$$$$$ gone just soooo oGoddd man in my Trini voice...
  • Well (28/11/2016, 13:57) Like (7) Dislike (4) Reply
    Whats the fuss, the government should have insurance, but still thats alot!
  • Yes (28/11/2016, 13:57) Like (16) Dislike (1) Reply
    What about the payout to the esteem?
  • just asking.. (28/11/2016, 14:02) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
    Who to blame?
  • Welsah (28/11/2016, 14:16) Like (19) Dislike (1) Reply
    This Gov't has really FAILED US. I am so ashamed that I went and voted for them.
  • Me (28/11/2016, 14:33) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    @ Well, what insurance you talking about? There is none to my knowledge that covers Government in these matters.
  • SMH (28/11/2016, 14:39) Like (18) Dislike (1) Reply
    the ndp is a joke
    • Smm2 (28/11/2016, 22:43) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
      A joke !!!! That's an understatement !! They are a bunch of educated fools!!!
      • OB-GYN (29/11/2016, 16:47) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
        They should stick to what they were educated in .....which doesn't include running a government.
  • duh (28/11/2016, 14:57) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    If they wouldn't do stupid destructive things to people or sign on to ridiculous international agreements that stab
    ones basic civil rights in the back - they wouldn't get these lawsuits. And even so, even if you are in the right were
    you to sue, and even if you can get a lawyer, and even if you WIN the darn thing - GOOD LUCK collecting!
    The good guy always looses. No one who has been seriously and malevolently victimized ever gets much or gets
    anything. The US is a classic example and smaller places like the VI fall in line.
  • Still coming (28/11/2016, 15:19) Like (13) Dislike (1) Reply
    Don't forget when Rite Way sue them for holding up the sale of their business
    Look at that one wade costing us so much money for something as simple as that that could have been worked out but they are so superior to us but God sees and knows all their day or reckoning is soon here
  • Hmmm (28/11/2016, 15:22) Like (10) Dislike (19) Reply
    Such a blatant misrepresentation of the truth. Vino you need to do better man!
  • investor (28/11/2016, 15:45) Like (18) Dislike (3) Reply
    Something must be wrong ,if the Premier Minister of Finance can't produce Financial reports since 2011 something troubling is taken place.My advice to him is to come clean, can't stay dodging bullets forever, someday some one will get hit, meaning level with the public. It's shameful to see just your back benchers is telling the public it is hard but your cabinet saying they are not hand to mouth.Obviously your cabinet is in control of all the money making decisions and unfortunately the public is getting what the duck got..Premier your government is batting on a average of 000% and it's not getting better ,you can't patch a boat bottom forever,someday you will have to replace it or get a new one..My hat goes off to those who is thinking about a 2019 run for cabinet ,it might not have nothing to run for we might just be in the hands of the UK by then,best wishes to the loyal voting public but don't get fool again..
  • foxy (28/11/2016, 16:15) Like (12) Dislike (2) Reply
    When will the budget come to the house of assembly,it look like things bad ,they keep putting it off it look like the treasury really really dry ,lord help us..
  • wize up (28/11/2016, 16:22) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
    Stay tuned!!!!
  • VIslander (28/11/2016, 16:46) Like (12) Dislike (1) Reply
    Everybody trying to get rich off tax payers back. A lot of it is greed....
    • Animal Farm (28/11/2016, 18:42) Like (17) Dislike (4) Reply
      Under normal circumstances I would agree but what is our money being used for? Where is it going? Projects start out at one estimated price then the price triples before the project even gets halfway completed and no one gets held accountable. It's ridiculous and has gone on too long. And on top of that there are a set of people in charge of all sort of government units and I have no idea how they got there. Clearly incompetent people who are causing government to lose money though their flat-out stupid and even malicious decision; decisions that no qualified professional would even think they could justify. The government hemorrhages so much money it's a miracle we haven't all flat lined yet. In my opinion, if your decision cost the government millions and you are found to be reckless, you should be fired and fined. What sense doesn't it make to keep someone in an authoritative position when they hinder everyone else? Yes people should think before they sue because it's you and I who have pay but the government is wrong for allowing this to continuously happen and the people are wrong for not holding the government accountable. We don't serve the government, the government serves us and when they can't perform their duties effectively, it's up us to put them in line and change the system.
  • Dalton123 (28/11/2016, 16:50) Like (18) Dislike (4) Reply
    Time to take a stand. All opposition party members and other concerned political persons, no financial reports laid before the house before the next budget 2017 sessions; Strike!
    No work
    No bus service
    No ferry
    No school
    Solidarity is the only way politicians listen to the people.
  • Just saying... (28/11/2016, 16:57) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
    SUE THEM BACKSIDE YES
  • where is God? (28/11/2016, 17:15) Like (14) Dislike (0) Reply
    Oh poor people. The poor can't take no more. NHI attacking the poor and voiceless taking insurance coverage from people who pay. While the bosses that stole our contributions go free. The Government taking advantage of poor and voiceless..No representation...Jah.....When we poor people lash out they call us Gangs or terrorist.. The poor could never win... Where is God?
  • nonsense (28/11/2016, 19:00) Like (11) Dislike (6) Reply
    Be real! Delta isnt getting $60 Mil and Cline isnt getting $20 mil, thats pure bs. The tank that Customs seized is designated for BVIEC which is in essence Govt and they were the ones invoncenienced. Delta will recoup their legal fees and some damages but nowhere near $60mil. If they get more than $5 mil they lucky. Cline has an uphill battle and even if, big IF he can win he gets a package of a few years salary and reputation damage. If he gets more than $1mil he is lucky. All smoke and mirrors here, Govts around the world are sued everyday.
  • ..... (28/11/2016, 19:59) Like (16) Dislike (0) Reply
    Bunbury wants $27 mill? What she smoking buddy...
  • what a thing (28/11/2016, 20:40) Like (11) Dislike (2) Reply
    Everyone crying out "SUE THE GOVERNMENT" then as they turn their face cries "THE GOVERNMENT WONT HELP ME DO ....."

    I aint saying that they should not be responsible but GOSH.... some of these lawsuits can be avoided and some people suing for suing sake.
  • belonger (28/11/2016, 22:38) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Vino, how u so. U even forget to mentioned Hugh Darley, remember him, when last u heard him speaking? He gone quiet into the night after he was paid his $2M after he claim he was not paid for his drawings for TPP. Thats another claim settled hush hush u never hear him again.
  • give me a break! (29/11/2016, 06:44) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    What will the VIP do with all these cases when they get in??? Will they seriously put up no defense? Ridiculous! Be careful what you ask for.
  • What a mess (29/11/2016, 20:36) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    They are a bunch of unqualified moo moo
  • judge (29/11/2016, 23:07) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    you have two groups, political and journalistic, having a food fight and tossing horse-shit around. A disservice to the people as much as the governmental ineptitude. You want London calling? more strupes than a zebra will bring it
  • Tadow (01/12/2016, 21:55) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Those set of incompetent MF.


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