The British Virgin Island government’s Register of Interest has become a central issue as the UK-funded Commission of Inquiry into allegations of corruption in the territory continues.
Several present and past legislators, among them current Premier Andrew Fahie and his immediate predecessor Dr Orlando Smith have come in for scrutiny for failing to make the declarations.
The BVI’s Register of Interest places an obligation on legislators and senior government officials to make annual declarations of their assets to reduce the potential of conflict of interest.
Many of the breaches are said to result from lack of information and knowledge about the requirement, to instances of negligence.
However, the attorney representing the government, Geoffrey Roberton QC, has told the inquiry that the present requirement to make the initial submission on the day legislators are sworn in, is impractical.
He said it places an “unreasonable burden on the member, a newly elected member who may not at the time of election even know of the obligation, will have many unfamiliar responsibilities and demands on their time.”
Mr Roberston has also referred to the need for induction and training courses in government processes for incoming legislators as occurs in other Overseas Territories and the Commonwealth.
The public hearings of the BVI Commission of Inquiry are expected to conclude in July followed by its report and recommendations.
The British-government-commissioned and funded inquiry is being chaired by noted jurist Sir Gary Hickinbottom, a former UK Lord Justice of Appeal, as the Sole Commissioner.
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