Friday, May 18, 2007

BVI Governor Establishes the Commission to Probe Stamp Duty Evasion

On May 16, 2007, the institution of a commission of inquiry was announced by BVI Governor David Pearey. The commission is to be established after the election, and will investigate the cases the apparent undervaluing of property for the purpose of avoiding stamp duty.

David Pearey commented that the decision on the establishment of the Commission has arisen out of the recommendation in favour of an inquiry in March 2006 Public Accounts Committee report. He said: “In the intervening 14 months there has been a full investigation by the Attorney General and the Director of Public of Public Prosecution into the transactions highlighted in the report ...These transactions were found to have given rise to an underpayment of stamp duty in excess of $500,000. Full payment of these sums is being secured, but evidence points to the likelihood that this practice has been continuing over many years.”

After the elections, the commission will examine the evidence of underpayment over a period starting from the year 2000, and other related matters. According to the BVI Constitution, the elections are due in June 2007, but must be held before October 10. The Governor said that the post-election timing for the inquiry is to ensure that it can make judgements away from the political limelight.

Chief Minister Dr. D. Orlando Smith and the Leader of the Opposition Ralph T. O'Neal have also been informed of the decision to issue an inquiry into the matter.

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