After an inquiry called for UK rule to be restored, the UK sent a minister to the British Virgin Islands.
Andrew Fahie’s arrest
It comes after a tumultuous few days for the overseas territory, which saw its leader, Andrew Fahie, arrested in the United States on drug trafficking and money laundering charges. Following his arrest, a report was issued recommending that due to corruption concerns, direct rule be imposed from London.
But the acting leader of the BVI has said he opposes the UK taking control.
The British Virgin Islands (BVI)
The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are a group of over 40 islands in the Caribbean to the east of Puerto Rico. It is a parliamentary democracy, with the prime minister presiding over the elected government and the governor representing the Queen.
The Panama Papers and Paradise Papers document leaks previously revealed the islands to be a popular tax haven.
British Overseas Territories are areas that have a constitutional and historical link to the United Kingdom, such as Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands. Most have largely autonomous governments, but the United Kingdom retains responsibility for their defence and foreign relations.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced that Amanda Milling, the minister for overseas territories, would visit the territory on Saturday for talks with BVI Governor James Rankin and other senior figures. Following the discussions, she said, the UK government would outline the next steps for the island’s governance.
Mr. Rankin, who is being recommended to take over as governor of the territory, has stated that his main concern would be the best interests of the BVI’s people. Acting Premier Natalio Wheatley, on the other hand, has stated that the territory opposes London’s efforts to impose direct rule.
“What this would mean in practise is that there would be no more elected representatives representing the people of the districts and the territory in the House of Assembly, where laws for our society are made,” he explained.
“There would also be no government ministers to advance the public’s priorities, nor would there be a cabinet to approve policy. The governor would have complete authority over all of this.”
He told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight that the BVI could address governance issues without resorting to UK direct rule, and that he did not believe the BVI people wanted the constitution to be suspended.
“Every country in the world, including the United Kingdom, faces governance challenges,” he said.
Mr. Wheatley said he had productive discussions with Ms. Milling and expected them to continue when she arrived in the territory on Saturday, though he warned that some of the conversations might be “uncomfortable.”
The reason for Andrew Fahie’s arrest
US authorities apprehended Andrew Fahie in Miami on drug and money laundering charges. Mr. Fahie was arrested in Miami by the US Drug Enforcement Agency on Thursday, bringing the islands’ crisis to a head.
He was detained alongside the BVI’s port director, Oleanvine Maynard, whose son was also detained in connection with the case. After appearing via video link in a Florida court on Friday, they were charged with cocaine trafficking and money-laundering conspiracy, according to US prosecutors. They will be held in custody until Wednesday’s bond hearing.
According to charges filed in the United States, Mr. Fahie agreed with an undercover informant to pay $700,000 (£560,000) to allow traffickers to use BVI ports.
Questions about governance in the territory predated the arrests, with long-standing concerns about state corruption and misuse of taxpayer funds, but the news hastened the release of an inquiry into how to best address them.
Edited By: Khushi Thakur
Published By: Akshaj Joshi