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Governor reportedly unlawfully pressured AG to audit COVID spending

- VI Constitution is clear that AG ‘shall not’ be subjected to direction or control by other persons or authority
Details from the VI Commission of Inquiry Day 51, on October 20, 2021, has revealed that the Auditor General (AG) Sonia M. Webster may have been unlawfully pressured by the Governor to execute an audit of the Fahie Government’s COVID-19 spending, and to prepare a report. Photo: VINO/File
During the Commission of Inquiry on October 20, 2021, it was revealed that the AG’s office may have been subjected to external pressure to prepare audits, specifically pressure from the Governor, in direct violation of the VI constitution. Photo: CoI/Youtube
During the Commission of Inquiry on October 20, 2021, it was revealed that the AG’s office may have been subjected to external pressure to prepare audits, specifically pressure from the Governor, in direct violation of the VI constitution. Photo: CoI/Youtube
WICKHAM’S CAY II, Tortola, VI – Details from the BVI Commission of Inquiry Day 51 on October 20, 2021, has revealed that the Auditor General (AG) Sonia M. Webster may have been pressured by the Governor to execute an audit of the Fahie Government’s COVID-19 spending and to prepare a report.

What this means, is that her office may have been subjected to outside pressures, which would go directly against Chapter 8, Section 109 (4) of the Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007, which states that in the exercise of his or her functions under the section, “the Auditor General shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.”

Constitution guides preparation of audits 

The section spoke specifically to the accounts of the House of Assembly and all Government departments and offices, including the Public Service Commission, the Teaching Service Commission, the Police Service Commission and such other body as may be designated by law being audited on an annual basis by the AG.

The Auditor General must then submit his or her reports made under subsection (2) to the Minister who shall, within three months of the receipt of the reports must cause them to be laid before the House of Assembly.

However, during the Commission of Inquiry on October 20, 2021, it was revealed that the AG’s office may have been subjected to external pressure to prepare audits, specifically pressure from the Governor, in direct violation of the VI constitution.

The CoI then used the reports, as incomplete and unpublished as they were, to base their evidence for the Inquiry.

AG felt obligated to Governor 

When subject to questioning from Sir Charles Geoffrey Cox QC based on her first appearance to the commission, the AG revealed that she may have felt an obligation to Audit on the request of the Governor. According to the constitution, this should not have been the case.

While Ms Webster has maintained that she independently followed through with the audit of COVID-19 spending, when Cox asked Ms Webster what she meant when she said ‘when it was brought to me’ regarding the idea to carry out the audit, the AG failed to give a clear answer.

“Well, it’s impossible for me to answer that without reading the full context of it,” Webster replied after a moment of silence. 

Cox, in analysing the conflicting answers, then questioned the AG whether the instructions to carry out the audit were given to her, or whether she had carried it out independently as claimed.

Who directed AG to prepare the Audit? 

“I am simply asking Madam Auditor General, what was meant thereby brought to me, somebody seems to have been bringing you the proposition that you should do the Audit, was that the Governor?” he asked.

The Auditor General again refused to answer the questions but revealed that the audit was already in the works, however, the priority changed when the Governor pushed to have it done.

“If he had concerns about it, then it was definitely something that needed to be followed up on,” she said.

After the United Kingdom refused to assist the Virgin Islands with grants to assist persons affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the VI government found monies on its own to help its people; however, the UK still wanted to know exactly how the grants were allocated.

24 Responses to “Governor reportedly unlawfully pressured AG to audit COVID spending”

  • facts (27/10/2021, 08:33) Like (18) Dislike (45) Reply
    The whole coi will turn out to be illegal you watch
  • Rubber Duck (27/10/2021, 08:38) Like (14) Dislike (27) Reply
    She just needs to admit that the governor instructed her to carry out the audit
    • The real rubber duck (27/10/2021, 10:49) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
      Stop using my name to spread misinformation
      • @ THE REAL (27/10/2021, 13:52) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
        There are three rubber ducks please give us the names I know one is white
  • just wrong (27/10/2021, 08:52) Like (39) Dislike (1) Reply
    I stopped reading at "may have been".
  • HMMM (27/10/2021, 09:03) Like (32) Dislike (4) Reply
    • huh (28/10/2021, 09:32) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Am baffled! Did she broke the law? Did she followed the letter of the law? Has the whistleblower law passed? So you’re law can and should be broken Willy nilly by anyone just to satisfy your likings? Am stumped. If one is to be prosecuted then all should be prosecuted don’t you think?
  • ccc (27/10/2021, 09:58) Like (7) Dislike (10) Reply
    Now this is corruption
  • Sucker (27/10/2021, 10:39) Like (12) Dislike (30) Reply
    She's sucking up to those racists white folks
  • Ne Timeas (27/10/2021, 12:32) Like (19) Dislike (6) Reply
    Who is Sonia Webster direct supervisor? It is either the Governor directed her to conduct the audit or not. It is a binary choice. The power sharing arrangement is a royal mess. Unity of command is lacking; the matrix structure is a failure. The civil service institution, not the civil servants( at least most of them) is a disaster that needs restructuring. The said every governor is deployed to BVI and to other OTs with a targeted mission and agenda. That mission is based on the one-sided, self-serving input from the Crown rep on the ground. The people in the OTs, a large % of whom are of of African descent, have little to no input. As Premier Fahie lamented about in another article, locals have no one forward their valid concerns and discontents to where their concerns will be taken seriously. In regards to the BVI, the Governor and FCO are the same; there is no day light. BVI has no chance getting a fair airing of its concerns.

    The partnership agreement looks good on paper; balance execution is another matter. It is an open secret that the equation is iunbalanced, which signifies there is a serious problem. Both sides of an equation are balanced. But not so with the BVI and UK partnership. The power tilts towards the crown. As another blogger noted, the Governor is in a win-win situation; BVI, lose-lose. The whole thing is an apparent cabal, ie, FCO, Governor, COP etc. The whole COI may be foul; it seems it may have been driven by a vendetta, a parting gift to the people of the BVI. Now, it is being force fed to prove the getting even vendetta. Nevertheless, I’m not saying locals have clean hands in all dealings. There are things that did not go according to plan. Things do not always go according to plan in the UK and elsewhere. These issues in them BVI needs to be fixed with more effective internal and management control. Additionally, as E. Leonard noted in another blog, ‘if the UK say jump and OT local government say how high, as is well.’

    On the other hand, if the local government refused to just drink the cool aid and have the bold audacity to ask questions, this creates a problems. OT governments, especially those of African descent , are expected to be subservient. This expectation goes back to slavery colonialism etc which created a system of White supremacy. Whites, particularly White men, resist and treat with disdain being challenged by people of African descendants who they were conditioned to believe were from a defective specie with low mental capacity and are not worthy to be of equal status to them. No one should be surprise , for this attitude and behaviour has been going on for centuries. Not all whites share this attitude and behaviour but too many still do.
  • house nigger (27/10/2021, 13:05) Like (48) Dislike (15) Reply
    Her turn will come
  • COXZ (27/10/2021, 13:09) Like (1) Dislike (20) Reply
    these guys got dollars to sQuander so take it and enjoy the sun sand and sea
  • roy (27/10/2021, 13:24) Like (12) Dislike (10) Reply
    The British have the gift of gab. It looks like the Auditor General allowed herself to fall for this trap in the sense that she really might have been pressured to complete these reports to help justify the call for a CoI by the former Governor. The British are known to hang you out to dry. They use you to suit their own purposes. What they achieve what they set out to achieve you are on your own.
  • Quietly Watching (27/10/2021, 13:31) Like (21) Dislike (20) Reply
    She is brilliant and doing a great job. Thank God for her. She is no suck up. Makes me proud. Throw your hat in the ring. I will vote for you hands down.
  • @ SUCKER (27/10/2021, 13:43) Like (6) Dislike (8) Reply
  • @ ROY (27/10/2021, 13:56) Like (17) Dislike (32) Reply
  • Gif (27/10/2021, 14:56) Like (19) Dislike (6) Reply
    No one pressured the AG to do a damn thing. The COI was necessary and all who is on here blogging nonsense knows it.
    • oh (28/10/2021, 09:47) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
      So she disregarded the laws for the cause? What, which or who’s cause exactly? Some people are labeled brilliant when they produce what they desire but only in that time. When you do otherwise you’re left to ponder in your demise.
  • Reporter (27/10/2021, 18:19) Like (7) Dislike (10) Reply
    It puzzles me for if they are not in violation of something or don’t have anything to hide, then why all this hullabaloo criticizing the AG for doing her job and spewing out all the hate words towards the Coi for doing the inquiry? Time and time again we hear that wrong cannot be right depending on who it is and vice- versa; therefore this principle should be applied across the board regardless of your position.
  • my2cents (28/10/2021, 09:56) Like (10) Dislike (3) Reply
    The $$$ was our $$$ and it was mismanaged but they want to dictate how the gov chose to help the ppl.
    They have no authority to instruct the AG. That is illegal and a violation & shows that the Governor had an agenda against the government. Which he did. Which is why this whole thing is a debacle.
    What Gus should have done was leave all his opinions for the new governor and let him decide based on his own opinions if this COI was necessary and if he believes the gossip that Gus believes. This is a battle of egos and Gus couldn't stand that Andrew & a youth called Sowande dare challenge him and refuse their loan guarantee entrapment.
    Gus Jaspert's neo colonial mind can't handle their refusal to blindly obey him. And is doing what all slave masters did to the troublesome slaves, public beatings and abuse for the other slaves to see this is what happens when you challenge the authority of colonial white power. However we hung a slave owner here before & our nature is not to be passive, that is a learned weakness from those who want to have indian tea with them. We are equals in this partnership, colonizer has no more human rights than the former slaves. This is the modern world we are not 3/5 human and them fully human. We are equals and that is the level of respect we demand then all can be held accountable.
  • Wendy (28/10/2021, 10:25) Like (1) Dislike (7) Reply
    Did she falsify anything?
    God Bless Ms Webster.
    • huh (29/10/2021, 15:47) Like (18) Dislike (0) Reply
      How will we know if all the facts are not in the it cannot be complete. It therefore leads one to a wrong conclusion wouldn’t it? If it leads to the desired effect then the goal is met. If you have a system or procedure and you leave out one or some for expediency sake what will be the effect. Not having the report laid before the HOA is a big herring. If it was done in ukidm she would have been mercilessly tarred and feathered by the media.
  • mwah (28/10/2021, 21:19) Like (0) Dislike (6) Reply
    Some of us fail to understand that territory is the crowns property. How can you live in someone's house and trying to take ownership of their house? Our lives are our own but the country isn't.

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