Commission of inquiry Secretary Steven Chandler, right, announced Feb. 15 that the body would be seeking information from public officials. (File photo: DANA KAMPA)

The commission of inquiry probing alleged corruption in the Virgin Islands is now focusing on collecting information and documentation from public officers, including elected and statutory officials, according to COI Secretary Steven Chandler.

“The commissioner has been informed and welcomes that it is BVI government policy that all ministries, departments, statutory bodies and government-owned entities provide appropriate and timely cooperation with the inquiry,” Mr. Chandler stated in a Feb. 15 press release. “He also understands that the attorney general, assisted by Withers Solicitors, will coordinate the implementation of that policy.”

These measures, he added, will not prevent public officers from contacting the commission directly.

“They have every right to do so, and if they do their information and input into the inquiry will be kept strictly confidential,” he said. Mr. Chandler said information for the inquiry “continues to flow in,” and he encouraged anyone with relevant evidence of corruption, abuse of office or serious dishonesty among officials in recent years to contact the commission as soon as possible.

The investigation, announced Jan. 18 by then-Governor Gus Jaspert, is looking into allegations of political intimidation, misuse of public funds, and possible organised crime, among other misconduct.

Commissioner Sir Gary Hickinbottom is charged with providing a report within nine months.

Premier Andrew Fahie announced last month that government had secured the services of Withersworldwide, an international law firm headquartered in London but with offices in the VI, as well as Sir Geoffrey Cox, a Queen’s counsel who formerly served as attorney general of England and Wales, to “ensure a transparent process and to advise upon … all matters relating to the commission of inquiry.”

Attempts to contact the attorney general and Withers were not immediately successful.