Former Bermuda Governor may take on direct rule of BVI
The British Virgin Islands is likely to come under direct rule from London after a corruption investigation called for the suspension of its constitution and the dissolution of the territory’s government.
John Rankin, Governor of the British Overseas Territory and former Governor of Bermuda, gave the verdict on Friday for a Commission of Inquiry ordered by his predecessor, Gus Jaspert.
Mr Rankin, who stepped down in December 2020 ahead of Governor Rena Lalgie taking the Bermuda post, spoke on the outcome of an inquiry launched in BVI last year to investigate “corruption, abuse of office, and other serious dishonesty”.
The independent inquiry, led by Judge Sir Gary Hickinbottom, has branded the territory’s governance “appallingly bad” in findings released yesterday, the BBC reported.
Sky News quoted Mr Rankin as saying Sir Gary “concluded with a particularly heavy heart that unless the most drastic and urgent steps are taken, the current situation with elected officials deliberately ignoring the tenets of good governance will go on indefinitely”.
The damning report comes on the heels of the arrest yesterday in Miami of BVI Premier Andrew Fahie, under a separate operation by the US Drug Enforcement Agency, by agents posing as drug smugglers for a Mexican cartel.
If Britain approves the report’s findings, Mr Rankin, a 65-year-old diplomat whose Bermuda tenure spanned from 2016 to 2020, will assume control for the domestic operations of the BVI.
Mr Fahie appeared in a Florida court today by video link and will both remain in custody until a hearing on Wednesday.
He faces charges relating to drug trafficking and money laundering.
Mr Rankin vowed that “the best interests of the people of BVI will continue to be my overriding concern”.
BVI, a Caribbean territory of Britain roughly 950 miles south of Bermuda, has been highlighted as a concern for organised crime by the UK Government, along with accusations of misuse of public funds.
Amanda Milling, the British Minister for Overseas Territories, is to meet Mr Rankin and others before the next steps for BVI are announced.
· This article has been amended to reflect that Mr Jaspert rather than Mr Rankin instigated the Commission of Inquiry in BVI.