03 September, 2008


When Can Anguilla Expect to See the FAC-Recommended Inquiry? I have been looking again at the Report of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British Parliament. The FAC has recommended that there be a public inquiry into allegations of corruption in Anguilla. The Hon Eddie Baird pointed out recently on the “To the Point” radio talk-show why a public inquiry is to be desired, even by the Ministers. It is in the interest of the Ministers to put the wild allegations to rest. It is not to their long-term benefit to sweep the matter under the carpet. People will only continue to hurl irresponsible allegations around. But, in my opinion, it is very doubtful that the recommended Inquiry will be held.

The Hon Chief Minister has said repeatedly in the House of Assembly that he is opposed to the holding of such an inquiry. He must be speaking for the government when he says so. The Turks and Caicos government was similarly opposed. The Inquiry was still set up, in spite of their Premier's protests. It was done within days of the FAC recommendation being published. The TCI Commission of Inquiry is pursuing its investigation, despite legal challenges made by government supporters. What makes Anguilla different? To understand, you need to look at the actual words used in the FAC Report.

The Report was published on 6 July 2008. You can download a copy of the entire thing here. Be patient, it is 3.17 MB in .pdf format. Or, you can just look at the two relevant extracts copied in red below for you.

The TCI recommendation is quite different from the one for Anguilla. It begins at page 157 of the Report. The relevant part reads:

“We conclude that the UK Government must find a way to assure people that a formal process with safeguards is underway and therefore recommend that it announces a Commission of Inquiry, with full protection for witnesses”.

The recommendation for Anguilla begins at page 132. The relevant part reads:

“We recommend that the [British] Government should encourage the Anguillan government to establish an independent inquiry into allegations that Anguillan ministers accepted bribes from developers in the Territory”.

These are fundamentally different recommendations. In the case of TCI, the FAC recommended that the British Government should announce a Commission of Inquiry. The British Government did so almost immediately. In the case of Anguilla, the FAC recommends that the British Government should encourage the Anguilla Government to hold an independent inquiry.

So, it is for the FCO to first react, if it chooses. The Mandarins in the FCO have to decide whether they see any advantage for themselves in recommending an Inquiry to the Anguilla Government.

They may reject the recommendation. They may decide that they should continue their history of benevolent abandonment of all principles and policies of good governance in Anguilla. That will be the end of the matter. This is the choice I believe the FCO will make in the end. Why should they accept the FAC recommendation that they shoot themselves in their own foot?

Even if the FCO should comply with the recommendation, that is not sufficient. The FCO may accept the FAC recommendation. They may “encourage” the Anguilla Government to hold an Inquiry. Then, it is up to the Anguilla Government to respond.

The Anguilla Government may decide to hold the Inquiry. Alternatively, they may decide to reject the “encouragement”. The Anguilla Government has a choice. The recommendation was not made in binding and obligatory words, as in the case of the TCI. It is open to the Anguilla Government not to take the encouragement. If they do not call for an Inquiry, they will not be flying in the face of anybody. They will be exercising a choice they were given.

If they decide to hold the Inquiry, that is not the end. They have to decide who they will appoint as the Commissioner. Unlike in the TCI, it will not be the British Government who will decide on who the Commissioner in Anguilla will be. The Anguilla Government could bring in anybody they think suitable.

Meanwhile, the FAC has washed its hands of Anguilla. They are now busy considering what the British Parliament should be doing about the Russian invasion of the Republic of Georgia. It is hardly likely they are going to want to waste their time coming back to consider the problem of Anguilla.

It has been well said that, “There is many a slip twixt cup and lip”.

Related Posts


  1. The FAC has issued their report but the matter is not over. The FCO have three months in which to respond. Only then will the FAC go beyond recommendations, write a final report and table it in Parliament.

    Benign neglect of the Overseas Territories has resulted in the embarrassment of Pitcairn being exposed as "The Island of Child Molesters," alleged looting of the TCI treasury by the present Ministers, and widespread alleged corruption in Bermuda. The Foreign Secretary seems to have said, "Enough." Leigh Turner, the boss of all the Governors, has been sent to the Ukraine. His replacement is widely regarded as a good and decent man who not only cares about people but the environment.

    A new wind is blowing in the Overseas Territories Department. Our Governor will return soon. His long holiday in paradise is over. Heads will roll.

  2. The FCO's response to the Foreign Affairs Committee Report has now been published :


    Seventh Report
    of the
    Foreign Affairs Committee
    Session 2007-08
    Overseas Territories

    Response of the Secretary of State
    for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

    Other Overseas Territories

    19. We recommend that the Government should encourage the Anguillan government to establish an independent inquiry into allegations that Anguillan ministers accepted bribes from developers in the Territory. We also recommend that the Government should urge the Anguillan government to use the opportunity of constitutional review to introduce stronger anti-corruption measures in the Territory.

    63. The Governor of Anguilla continually monitors governance issues in Anguilla, including possible cases of corruption. In the first instance it is for the Territory Government and competent authorities to investigate allegations of bribery.
    No substantive evidence has come to the Governor’s attention that Anguillian Ministers have accepted bribes from developers. The Chief Minister of Anguilla has publicly rejected the allegations. Nevertheless, the Governor will ask the Government of Anguilla to explain how they plan to deal with the allegations made to the Committee. The Government will inform the Committee of the response.

    64. The Government agrees that the constitutional review process is an opportunity to introduce improved good government measures in Anguilla. That is why the Government encourages Territories to move the process forward, while respecting
    the position that it is for the Territories to bring forward proposals for reform.


    21. We recommend that the FCO should strongly encourage all Overseas Territories which have not yet done so to introduce freedom of information legislation. We also recommend that the FCO should review with Overseas Territories what steps they might take to improve their public accounting and auditing capability. We support the Public Accounts Committee’s recent
    recommendations that the FCO should explore how Overseas Territories
    might make better use of UK expertise and that it should also explore whether those Territories with Public Accounts Committees could make more use of ex-officio members.


    The Foreign & Commonwealth Office should not be lecturing anybody about Freedom Of Information Laws - they themselves break the spirit and the letter of the UK Freedom of Information Act 2000 every day.

    29. We are concerned by the National Audit Office’s finding that the FCO has been complacent in managing the risk of money laundering in Anguilla, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands, particularly since these Territories are those for which the UK is directly responsible for regulation
    and therefore most exposed to financial liabilities. We agree with the Public Accounts Committee’s recent recommendation that Governors of these Territories should use their reserve powers to bring in more external investigators or prosecutors to strengthen investigative capacity.

    90. The Government does not accept that there has been any complacency in its approach to managing the risks of money laundering in these Territories. The FCO has continued close and consistent engagement with relevant agencies in these Territories to encourage and assist them to keep pace with international
    regulatory standards. But the Government agrees with the recommendation on the provision of external investigators where appropriate.

    91. The Government’s general approach has been to work with regional technical assistance providers such as the International Monetary Fund, and with Territory
    agencies to enhance their own systems to detect, investigate and prosecute money laundering and other suspected abuses. Examples of assistance include funding the introduction of a computerised case-management system for the Financial Crime Unit and the drafting of updated proceeds of crime legislation in the Turks and Caicos Islands, introduced in September 2007. This was based on UK
    provisions and included the introduction of a civil forfeiture regime. Action is in hand to produce similar legislation in Anguilla and Montserrat.

    92. In line with a recommendation in the 2007 National Audit Office report, the Government is developing a financial services strategy aimed at providing targeted UK assistance to Territories where specific vulnerabilities have been dentified.
    The Government’s response will take account of the different levels of development and capacity amongst the Territories. This will complement the strategies that the Territories already have in place. For example, Bermuda has its own strategy for
    taking forward the recommendations of its most recent assessment.

    93. Initial discussions on the strategy took place in 2008 with Whitehall partners and Governors. It is crucial that a partnership approach is developed with the
    Territories. Use of Governors’ reserve powers to bring in external investigators would be very much a last resort. Discussions were held in April-May 2008, with Territory Attorneys General, Police Commissioners and with Territory
    regulators. This is being followed up with a programme of bilateral engagement with the relevant Territory agencies with the aim of drawing up detailed action plans designed to improve capacity and compliance with international standards. The FCO will discuss the strategy and action plans at the Overseas Territories Consultative Council meeting in London in October 2008.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.