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'Unregistered Company' bought BVI Airways

-owners accused of hatching plan to sneak plane out of VI
From left are Scott A. Weisman of BVI Airways, Premier Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith, Jerry D. Willoughby, the airline's President and CEO, Bruce F. Bradley of BVI Airways and Financial Secretary Neil M. Smith at the launch of the partnership between BVI Airways and the VI Government on January 12, 2016. Photo: VINO/File
Court Documents continue to unravel the muddle of financial transactions that led to the demise of BVI Airways, including the fact that it was sold to an ‘unregistered company’ and that the owners had attempted to sneak the plane out of the Virgin Islands (VI) to avoid its seizure. Photo: VINO/File
Court Documents continue to unravel the muddle of financial transactions that led to the demise of BVI Airways, including the fact that it was sold to an ‘unregistered company’ and that the owners had attempted to sneak the plane out of the Virgin Islands (VI) to avoid its seizure. Photo: VINO/File
Taxpayers have now lost $7.2M and recently Governor Augustus J. U Jaspert, announced an investigation into the deal. VINO/File
Taxpayers have now lost $7.2M and recently Governor Augustus J. U Jaspert, announced an investigation into the deal. VINO/File
Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr the Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), in 2006 had signed $7M ‘give-away’ to the airline, in exchange for direct flights between Miami International Airport and Beef Island. Photo: VINO/File
Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr the Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), in 2006 had signed $7M ‘give-away’ to the airline, in exchange for direct flights between Miami International Airport and Beef Island. Photo: VINO/File
After missing three deadlines, the plane has never taken off and it was subsequently revealed in the House of Assembly, by Premier Smith, that an additional $200,000 was added to the ‘pot,’ to open a Special Account. Photo: VINO/File
After missing three deadlines, the plane has never taken off and it was subsequently revealed in the House of Assembly, by Premier Smith, that an additional $200,000 was added to the ‘pot,’ to open a Special Account. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - Court Documents continue to unravel the muddle of financial transactions that led to the demise of BVI Airways, including the fact that it was sold to an ‘unregistered company’ and that the owners had attempted to sneak the plane out of the Virgin Islands (VI) to avoid its seizure.

The information is contained in the sworn affidavit of Luke Smith, the initial owner of the airlines and filed in the Supreme Court, in the State of New York, in the United States of America.

Substantial Debt

Smith, in his affidavit, has claimed that it was Jerry D. Willoughby and Scott A. Weisman’s decisions and suspected criminal activity that led to the demise of the airlines, after he had sold his interests to them.

According to Smith, he had founded the airline in 2009 but by 2013, found himself in substantial debt, some $475,000.

The airlines had operated as a charter and owed its lessor, Corportate Flight Management (CFM) Inc and the annual returns did not make it feasible to pay the debt.

“Through my good relationship with CFMs CEO, CFM was working with BVI (Airways) in obtaining finance to expand our fleet and route structure.”

During this time however, a bird damaged one of the engines on the plane they had been operating at the time—April 2013—and it was subsequently grounded.    

A smaller plane was rented in the interim, and by the next month—June 2013—Smith said, he communicated with the two men representing a company—Etico Capital LLC, an Investment Group.

Well Funded

According to Smith, the two men, Weisman and Willoughby, “represented Etico as exceedingly well funded and had the expertise to make BVI’s (Airways) expansion a reality.”

He said by August 2013, the men expressed an interested in buying a controlling interest in the airlines but they wanted to push through the transaction as quickly as possible including the completion of due diligence, “with a closing in 30-45 days.”

According to Smith, in his Affidavit, “while I was dubious of their claims, I was also in a difficult financial position, after having just experience a substantial loss during our summer of 2013 high season and was now heading into the three-month low winter season which would make it difficult for BVI (Airways) to survive.”

He said too, CFM—the company owed a substantial debt—was encouraging him to work with Weisman and Willoughby.

Controlling Interest

By the following month (September), the term sheet had been signed and Etico Capital took over controlling interest in the airlines, according to Smith.

He said the two men took control of the company, despite the fact the deal had not been finalised until March, 2014.

According to Smith, having taken control of the airlines, Weisman and Willoughby began negotiations with CFM—the company from whom the plane was rented—since the lease was about to expire.

Smith said, because of the men’s choices, the plane was grounded in December 2013, in order to be re-registered.

The two men—Weisman and Willoughby—then turned to rent a plane from Haiti, which was objected to, given the hurdles involved but the men went ahead anyways, Smith claims.

“We had the Sunrise Airlines Plane for only a brief period until regulators refuse to validate the plane’s maintenance program.”

Unregistered Company

That fiasco obtained in January 2014 and according to Smith, in his Affidavit, in February 2014 he was approached by Weisman and Willoughby, with a Stock Purchase Agreement with Colchester Aviation LLC —a new company that had been formed between the two men.

Smith said, it was only after the lawsuit against him commenced, he learned that Colchester had never filed registration papers in Delaware or New York.

The new deal would essentially transfer majority ownership from Etico Capital to Colchester and Smith’s stock option would further be reduced.

He would also be made to sign promissory notes to make further payments to Colchester to cover the airline’s liabilities at the time of the sale.

In the interest of the survival of the airline, Smith said he signed the documents and Colchester became the majority owner and his stocks were further reduced.

Plan is Hatched  

It was at this time the issue of the payment of landing fees came up, since the new owners did not bother to pay.

This led to an intervention by the BVI Airports Authority (BVIAA) in August 24, 2018. The airline was informed that BVIAA would be going to court to recover what it was owed.

According to Smith, Willoughby subsequently met with representatives of BVIAA, after which he became quite concerned that the authorities would take serious action against the airline.

“In response Willoughby hatched a plan to try to evade liability to the BVIAA,” Smith said, in his sworn Affidavit.

According to Smith, over the Labour Day weekend, Willoughby shut down all reservations from September 12, 2014.

“After learning of this, Willoughby told me he plan to ferry the plane to Florida on September 14 (2014) directly from its stop in St Marteen rather than allowing the plane to return the British Virgin Islands so that BVIAA could not seize the plane,” Smith said.

Criminal Act

According to Smith “I did not want to be in this fraudulent if not if not outright criminal activity.”

He said, following his refusal to go along with the ploy—including Colchester’s Attorney coercing attempts to sign an affidavit claiming no knowledge of the plan to sneak away the plane to avoid seizure—he was fired from the company on October 4, 2014.

2006

Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr the Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), in 2016 had signed a $7M ‘give-away’ to the airline, in exchange for direct flights between Miami International Airport and Beef Island.

After missing three deadlines, the plane has never taken off and it was subsequently revealed in the House of Assembly, by Premier Smith, that an additional $200,000 was added to the ‘pot,’ to open a Special Account.

Taxpayers have now lost $7.2M and recently Governor Augustus J. U Jaspert, announced an investigation into the deal.

36 Responses to “'Unregistered Company' bought BVI Airways ”

  • Lock him up. (30/07/2018, 11:29) Like (56) Dislike (2) Reply
    Everyone involved in this needs to be locked up. Dr. Smith included
  • light (30/07/2018, 11:40) Like (35) Dislike (2) Reply
    clearly a web of corruption and scams
  • WOWW (30/07/2018, 12:01) Like (25) Dislike (8) Reply
    Is this surprising, of course this happens under the NDP administration. They need to go immediately!!!
  • Blind Man (30/07/2018, 12:05) Like (35) Dislike (5) Reply
    the plot thickens we need the FBI involved in this
  • maybe next time you will listen (30/07/2018, 12:40) Like (29) Dislike (0) Reply
    well, well, well....looks like I nailed it right from day one. I always said that this entire deal stank to high heaven. I have tracked the movement of the planes, the contracts and the filing of landing slots etc since this deal was announced and I have been on here many times demanding an inquiry. Maybe now we will get one. Somebody needs to go to jail over this. our money has been stolen with the magic of paper shuffling. There is somebody in government that made a LOT of money off this!
  • BRAD BOYNES (30/07/2018, 12:41) Like (30) Dislike (2) Reply
    Some body got taken to school with all their medical and finance degrees.
  • dude (30/07/2018, 12:50) Like (21) Dislike (2) Reply
    They take ppl for fools...direct flights to Miami huh...the prison for them all
    Next time work with your own local brothers & sisters who you know and who aren't trying to defraud the country but to invest in it b/c it means something to them
  • Political Observer (PO)) (30/07/2018, 13:01) Like (19) Dislike (0) Reply
    What a twisted tory! Scam. VI taxpayers swindled out of its $7.2M; $7.2M if taxpayers money down a rat home. What ah ting, a serous ting. Accountability and responsibility needed. A complete and proper accounting.
  • Hilarious (30/07/2018, 13:06) Like (30) Dislike (1) Reply
    Check the poster in the background of the group picture: "Let's Keep Our Little Secret"..... LMAO
  • too funny (30/07/2018, 13:19) Like (29) Dislike (0) Reply
    So you mean within an entire government with a judicial system, nobody did a simple company search? Wow. I am embarrassed for this territory. Who was the advisor? In every legal opinion, the first thing you do is check out the company? ….and it don't even exist? Nahhh
    • @toofunny (31/07/2018, 10:48) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply
      Good morning: I did a paper search and io also tracked the movement of the aircraft and I even looked at the filings at Miami airport to see if there was a request for landing slots....guess what , nobody ever applied for one under the BVIA name. I have been foillowing this fiasco since day 1 and have been on this site saying the same as you. this entire thing has been a big paper shuffle of cash between numbered companies.
  • 284 (30/07/2018, 13:37) Like (29) Dislike (2) Reply
    These men boasted about their high level of intelligence and academic qualifications when they started out but this sounds like a poor decision sanctioned by a pack of fools. In these enlightening days, man, even a bushman would have exercised more sense!

    They really put down their ignorance and pick up their intelligence. Personally, if they are people of integrity they should do the right thing and repay the people of the BVI (out of their pockets) for their foolish decision that resulted in this embarrassing fiasco. Unless they got a cut out of the deal somehow........

    Big shame! We are no doubt the laughingstock of the world.
  • Square Deal (30/07/2018, 13:39) Like (18) Dislike (1) Reply
    the more we heard about this airline the more we get sick to our stomach
  • Ajic (30/07/2018, 13:58) Like (27) Dislike (1) Reply
    Governor don't let us down...LET THE HEADS ROLL FOR THIS GROSS MISHANDLING OF PUBLIC FUNDS.
  • Thats all folks (30/07/2018, 14:26) Like (20) Dislike (1) Reply
    Big SCAM, Doc, they got.you big time, if you had only listen to the people that voiced their concerns when this airline thing came up This would have been avoided. You are responsable for the money and you have to replace it back Doc.
  • standard (30/07/2018, 15:14) Like (21) Dislike (0) Reply
    The beauty of the law for anyone who is law abiding, is that it is the "great equalizer". You don't have to rely on advice from your friends or constituents telling you that this is a good deal, you simply follow the letter of the law. Before anyone from our government signed off on this agreement, did they review their due diligence on the company and all of its principals and financial records of the company to ensure that it was well capitalized to sustain a business here? Did we receive a review of the mechanics of the plane itself, to determine whether it met the international standards for flying? Did we review their track record, to determine, before we handed over carte blanc, of our valuable tax dollars- whether they had any outstanding liabilities, which apparently, Mr. Smith did. In which case, he should have backed away from the deal and returned the balance. Who did we sign the agreement with, Mr. Smith of these other guys? Who in our government provided oversight of all of these details prior to signing off? Who on earth signs over so much money, without having clear records and evidence that this is a valid transaction, or conducting very standard due diligence for AML etc., which is the law of the land. If we followed the laws, then we would not be in this mess and there would be no issue. We simply would not have gambled and lost.
  • wow (30/07/2018, 15:39) Like (27) Dislike (0) Reply
    wow. For a government to make such a mistake is unheard of. I take that back, this is no mistake, it is blatant incompetence by all involved. So, the attorney general overlooked this and everybody just took these people at their word. I don't even want to laugh. Hope that leaders from other countries isn't reading this article. I too shame.
    So much was invested to accommodate this airline. Apart from the electronic billboards splattered all over the TBLettsome departure lounge, extra seats were added, a new security checkpoint invested because we were expecting extra passengers with this flight. I am not an Andrew fan, but man, I sang the song, played the chorus and read the scripture about this airline and put his guarantee that they were not going to fly.
    To add insult to injury, Dr. Smith picked up 7 million and handed to these people outside of the agreement to give in installments. Then the so-called company said they could not fly because they needed yet more money.

    Truth be told, I have a little business and I got to fend for myself. Nobody, no government don't hand me nothing. I got to buss my behind off to pay myself and pay the few people I try to give employment. Let me go and beg them from anything. This is such a shame that I am writing and feel so sorry for a set of people who have doctrate and other university levels. Never before have we had such an educated government but they do the dumbest crap. They should be made to answer for this and charges should be brought against everyone involved.

  • Eagle Eye (30/07/2018, 16:08) Like (19) Dislike (0) Reply
    Doc and all envolved need arresting right away
    • Curious Cat (30/07/2018, 20:46) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
      What good would arresting them do before they pay back the tax payers monies?
  • Now you see (30/07/2018, 16:49) Like (15) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is why the outside world dont take the BVI serious. Of course every Scam players is going to run games and take what they can get.
  • Bay Boy (30/07/2018, 17:13) Like (15) Dislike (0) Reply
    did anyone read the poster in the back ground? NUFF SAID...……………...
  • Outlaw (30/07/2018, 17:19) Like (24) Dislike (7) Reply
    Well in the eyes of the NDP and the newly elected chairman, this is nothing. I listened to a broadcast just a while ago from him and according to him the NDP is not corrupt, they are the most transparent, most open,most clean and most loyal to the people of the VI. That bald headed boy have no ounce of shame but yet again they took we the people for fools who they can manipulate and control at all times. But come Election Day they will see how foolish we are. How long, not long.
    • So sad (30/07/2018, 18:48) Like (16) Dislike (8) Reply
      I just listened to a whatsapp recording with VIP strategizing with their new candidates to go into the district's with shovels and hard hats for photo ops. This is pathetic and very disingenuous.
  • True (30/07/2018, 18:06) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    These men can easily be found, send a debt collector to collect, properly.
    • Check this (31/07/2018, 05:43) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
      Where i am from, it is called selling ice to an Eskimoo scam and Doc got caught up in it.
  • island man (30/07/2018, 18:44) Like (18) Dislike (1) Reply
    What a ring of corruption; Dr. Smith must have knows about this failing airline before hi stash our money in it. Jail in London awaiting all involved.
  • Cartoon (30/07/2018, 20:19) Like (29) Dislike (6) Reply
    This is the type of foolishness I keep warning about. All these pompous boastful Tortolians are simply cartoon characters. These people have no clue about reality. They believe all that is necessary is to talk shit about Jesus and all will be well. Welcome to the real world...if you guys don't wake up and fast you are going to end up with nothing. Open your eyes and see how your heritage is being gobbled up by strangers with your so called leaders cluelessly giving it away. The simplest uneducated foreigner recognizes that he is dealing with simpletons as soon as they arrive at T.B. Lettsome Airport. The Spanish have Customs and Immigration like idiots with the assistance of Tortolians who have been duped. I regretfully have to concur with my friend who says our only hope is for England to take over. What a shame...BVIslanders are hopeless....a bunch of shameless cartoons.
  • Wowwwwww USA (30/07/2018, 21:51) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
    @Cartoon, the Jesus part i am not going to go there however, everything you have said is on point.
  • Observer (31/07/2018, 11:07) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    NDP Government theme song suit them well. Action speaks louder than words don't be deceived by the fancy talkers. Now the public see who was deceived by the fancy talkers the same NDP government.
  • part of the game (31/07/2018, 13:32) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    and while we are on the subject of the airport, lets not forget who the government chose to do the airport expansion. a company that is BANNED from bidding on jobs in over 5 countries due to cheating, bribery and illegal payments. I sent emails to both the NDP and a few others about the Chinese CCCC company and nobody replied. Lots of lip service but nobody has an interest in doing the hard work and following up.
    • WoW God is Good (01/08/2018, 07:10) Like (19) Dislike (3) Reply
      You see how the All father stepped in? He had to mash up the economy to stop these people. Governor or Uk was going to do anything because they know what they did to get them in there to put through everything they want now HE turn their hand and everything else upside down. Since no one was stopping this, He Destroyed the Country with IRMA to expose all that was hidden in the Dark. They used to call the people before them that was in the house uneducated and it look bad globally so we the bright people ( they thought of us as idiots ) put them there and all they did was setup themselves for life by taking state owned companies to make it their own, protecting their rich friends by giving them our water rights and calling it marine sanctuaries. Tortola Pier Park was never meant for locals. They did not want locals their that is why they jack up the rent so high in the first place and saying they only wanted high end stores for high end customers. Their minds were on the wealthy only and not us the idiots. They only needed us every four years to seal their wealth. The BIG HOG for them was the AIRPORT & BVIEC. A 20 to 30 year deal. This issue is so serious citizens in other countries would bring harm to them for this kind of thievery. UK is FULLY TO BLAME as a MOTHER COUNTRY for Unleashing these, these EDUCATED THIEVES on us the unknowing PUBLIC. YOU ARE FULLY TO BLAME FOR SITTING ON YOUR DUFF AND ALLOWING THIS. WE WILL CLEAN THE HOUSE OF THIS STAIN, THIS STENCE ON OUR COUNTRY IN THE NEXT ELECTION. UK AS A MOTHER COUNTRY WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR DEFENSE THEN GET OFF YOUR BEHIND AND DEFEND THE INTEGRITY OF OUR COUNTRY AND LOCK THEIR BEHIND UP. Augustus you said the Chief Auditor took this on herself, with your NonSense, MAN UP FOR ONCE AND DO THE RIGHT THING OR GET OUT. GOD HAD TO MASH UP THE PLACE TO STOP THESE PEOPLE. THE ALL-FATHER HAD TO STEP IN.


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