(Photo Credit: Ahreefa Bacchus/BVI Platinum News)
Premier and Minister for Finance, Hon. Andrew Fahie has responded to the accusations that were made by Fourth District Representative, Hon. Mark Vanterpool, during his improptu press conference on Tuesday, July 16, stating that the speech was a smear campaign that had as its primary and sole objective, character assassination and bacchanal.
Further, the Premier declared that the accusations were untrue and purposely sensational.
"There was no regard for the truth or facts as outrageous fabrication and malicious falsehoods formed the basis of Mr. Vanterpool’s fictional play. This was clearly a pre-planned, stage-managed affair that was designed to seek maximum attention and grab news headlines," Hon. Fahie declared.
Among the many bombshell comments made by the Fourth District Representative that day were statements surrounding allegations that Premier Fahie was in overseas trouble in the early 2000s.
Hon. Vanterpool in making the allegations said, "I know in those years 2002, 2003, somewhere around there I got a call from the Hon. Andrew Fahie from the United States. He did call me and as I learned later around that time he called many others in the BVI...He did call also Hon. Carvin Malone -- Minister of Health. He called him at the time -- who spoke with me on the phone...as he helped to raise very large sums of money to send to Hon. Andrew Fahie in the United States at that time."
While insisting that he is telling the truth about the matter, Hon. Vanterpool said that he was also called by Hon. Fahie, who was in the US.
"My people I am not speaking rumors, I am speaking facts. I was told by Hon. Andrew Fahie when he called me that the money requested of me was for emergency family healthcare...I later learned that the request for those large sums of money might have been for something else," Hon. Vanterpool pointed out. Hon. Vanterpool further alleged that money raised was paid to a lady name Mama Cita.
While the Premier did not address any of the detailed accusations at length, he did allude to the allegations regarding the matter that reportedly took place in the early 2000s. In quickly zooming on those comments, Hon. Fahie referred to them as a witch hunt.
"The public has been long and well aware of the claims made by Mr. Vanterpool on Tuesday. They will recall that 17 years ago the NDP dedicated millions of dollars to investigating and hounding me, in the worst political witch hunt in the history of the BVI."
"They failed in that attempt. This latest outburst shows clearly the malice that he and others still have in their hearts and minds towards me. They are entitled to their own opinions but to their own facts. Whom GOD blesses no man can curse," he added.
Statement by Hon Andrew A Fahie
July 17, 2019
Government remains focused on the people’s business.
My fellow Virgin Islanders, good day & GOD’S Blessings.
The Fifth Sitting of the First Session Of The Fourth House Of Assembly Of The Virgin Islands was held on Tuesday 16th July, 2019, and accommodated the swearing in of Mr Mark Vanterpool as the Member for the Fourth Electoral District.
Having taken the oath, Mr Vanterpool insisted on making a personal statement, in breach of the Standing Orders, without any regard for the agenda of the House and in total disrespect of the ruling by the Speaker that Mr Vanterpool would be allowed to give his speech under the appropriate agenda heading which would be lower down in the order of business.
Mr Vanterpool’s theatrical and petulant outburst was improper, unparliamentary and totally unacceptable. As an experienced parliamentarian, Mr Vanterpool knows the rules of the House better than most of the other Members, but he deliberately set out to breach them because he wanted to be put out of the House so that he could claim victimhood and use that as an excuse to launch his vile and slanderous attacks.
After his initial plan was thrown off course by the Speaker’s calling of an early recess due to Mr Vanterpool’s persistent disruption of the proceedings and continued disregard for the Chair, Mr Vanterpool then held a press conference outside the House where he launched a tirade of abuse against the government and the Premier and Minister of Finance in particular.
Mr Vanterpool’s smear campaign had as its primary and sole objective, character assassination and bacchanal. There was no regard for the truth or facts as outrageous fabrication and malicious falsehoods formed the basis of Mr Vanterpool’s fictional play. This was clearly a pre-planned, stage-managed affair that was designed to seek maximum attention and grab news headlines.
During the course of his slanderous rant, Mr Vanterpool attacked several prominent persons and entities especially in the private sector in what was a clear agenda to de-stabilize and dislocate the government’s efforts at reviving the economy by providing jobs for the people of the Territory via work issued legitimately to local contractors.
Mr Vanterpool’s allegations and conduct were baseless and tasteless. It was all part of a plan to hijack the House of Assembly and distract from the magnanimity and graciousness of the occasion in light of the government’s decision not to pursue the appeal in Mr Vanterpool’s case in the public’s interest. It is a pity that Mr Vanterpool chose the occasion of his swearing in to try to score cheap political points. He simply could not rise to the occasion and conduct himself as a statesman.
I wish to make it abundantly clear that I have nothing to hide. My hands are clean and my heart is pure. You, the people of the Virgin Islands, affirmed this when you chose to elect me and the members of my government to office on February 25, despite having heard these stale trumped up accusations before.
It is passing strange that Mr Vanterpool’s preferred course of action is to mount his soapbox and attack all and sundry including contractors, the police service, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Supervisor of Elections and the Elections Office, and the people, without giving a second thought to damage and hurt that his words could cause to innocent Virgin Islanders and to our national economy.
His preposterous allegations will adversely affect the reputation and integrity of the local construction sector and discourage the use of local contractors with the attendant benefits of job creation and stimulation of the domestic economy.
This vicious and damaging attack on our local construction sector could not come at a worse time as the BVI’s services sectors are trying to restore confidence and trust that they can honourably and competently execute projects that would be executed through Recovery and Development Agency (RDA) and Central Government.
The public will be mindful that one of the reasons for the imposition of the RDA on the BVI is the massive corruption and mismanagement that took place under the previous NDP administration, including activities during the immediate aftermath of the devastating 2017 hurricanes where the former administration failed to lead during this time of crisis. Mr Vanterpool’s recklessness can and will also adversely affect our ratings on the International Transparency Index and deter foreign investors.
Whilst contractors and other affected persons are free to seek legal redress from the courts for defamation, we in the government have resolved that we will not allow ourselves to be bullied by Mr Vanterpool’s intimidatory politics which is rooted in malicious falsehoods, we will not be distracted from our mission to restore the BVI and reposition our Territory in the global competitive markets.
Your government’s time, effort and energy are better spent addressing the needs of the thousands of Virgin Islanders and residents who remain without a roof over their heads two years after the devastating hurricanes of 2017 – disasters in which certain persons chose to profiteer off and exploit the suffering of our people rather than leading. This is even more critical given that the hurricane season is upon us once again and many homes are not waterproof.
The government believes our attention should be focused on developing new industries and economic engines, creating jobs, supporting entrepreneurship, opening up training opportunities, repairing our schools, delivering long-overdue increments to public servants, implementing consumer protection, addressing the social security and NHI issues, re-igniting our hotel industry, stimulating the marine sector, and other items of business that formed the mandate for which the government was elected by the people of the Virgin Islands.
Your government’s 1,000 jobs in 1,000 days programme is about to be launched to ensure that all Virgin Islanders are gainfully and meaningfully employed. The “Back to the Sea” programme is also about to be kick-started in every district so that our young people between the ages of 18 and 35 can register for certified courses and become qualified to enter careers in the marine sector. This is the business that Mr Vanterpool, through his shenanigans, is seeking to derail.
It is noteworthy that Mr Vanterpool’s sensational allegations come on the heels of my statement in the House of Assembly on the unforgettable and unforgivable corruption that occurred under the nose of the administration in which he was a senior Cabinet member for eight consecutive years.
As I indicated in the House on Tuesday, the newly appointed Board of the BVIAA has uncovered a rabbit hole, that threatens not only the livelihoods of airport workers but the stability of the economy of the Virgin Islands and thereby the incomes of all businesses and families in the Territory.
Your government is focused on averting this disaster that was created and swept under the carpet by our predecessors. Our focus is on securing and protecting the welfare of our airport workers and all who stand to be affected by this distressing state of affairs. Our attention is on sourcing the funds to keep the airport open, save jobs, and to pay the dedicated and hard-working airport employees the increments that has been due to them since 2015 and which they have worked hard for. As Premier, I express my gratitude to these workers for their dedication to the service they perform to the Territory.
Today, the people of the BVI are stuck with a tab for the BVI Airways deal of $7.2 million with no planes, no money and no flights – nothing to show for even one cent of this expenditure. The illegal transfer of the $8 million from the loan funds approved by the House of Assembly for the East End/Long Look sewage project to the grossly over-priced Pier Park Ports development project also occurred without a murmur from Mr. Vanterpool and his supporters who have suddenly become paragons of virtue. He sat in his ministry and in the Cabinet and uttered not a word about these unconscionable acts but now wants to pretend to be our Messiah.
The public has been long and well aware of the claims made by Mr Vanterpool on Tuesday. They will recall that 17 years ago the NDP dedicated millions of dollars to investigating and hounding me, in the worst political witch hunt in the history of the BVI. They failed in that attempt.
This latest outburst shows clearly the malice that he and others still have in their hearts and minds towards me. They are entitled to their own opinions but to their own facts. Whom GOD blesses no man can curse.
It is unfortunate but the public can expect more intense attacks of these kinds from Members of the Opposition in response to the Government’s penetrating investigations into corruption, mismanagement and wastage by the former administration, which also has many unanswered questions. You can expect them to get even worse as we make strides in improving the quality of life of our citizens and raising the prospects for the future by breaking the cycle of social inequity that has been the status quo.
Mr. Vanterpool’s attempt to discredit the Premier and the sitting government is indicative of the desperation and anxiety of certain Members of the Opposition as they continue to miss being able to enjoy the spoils of government for their personal enjoyment and aggrandisement, while being put in the shade by the performance and achievements of our government which is just over four months young.
The mandate for change given to this government is one that we take seriously. These are challenging times but we are committed to raising the standard of living and quality of life for the people of the British Virgin Islands. We will remain laser focused on the task and will not compromise the public interest at any costs.
In closing, I want to inform Mr. Vanterpool and the few others whose sole intention seems to be to try to destroy this Territory, to destroy your newly elected government, and my family and I, that when destruction is your motivation then your motivation becomes your destruction.
Long live these beautiful Virgin Islands as we move in one direction FORWARD!
I thank you.