The Government of the British Virgin Islands has launched a “full criminal investigation” into the missing USD7.2 million loaned by the previous administration to the now-dormant BVI Airways (BVI, Beef Island), Virgin Islands News Online reported.

The territory’s Office of the Auditor General completed a report on the failed investment, which was sent to Governor Augustus Jaspert on February 7 and has now reached the 15-member House of Assembly.

Andrew Fahie, the current premier and minister of finance, confirmed the status of the case at the House of Assembly on May 28. A discussion of the report had been anticipated, but with it also now being in the hands of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, the matter cannot be debated.

“I cannot say anything further on this matter as we have been informed by the Commissioner of Police that this is now under a full criminal investigation,” Fahie said.

As previously reported, privately-owned BVI Airways commenced operations in May 2010 but suspended inter-island flights in late 2014 and made most of its staff redundant in July 2017. It had pledged direct flights between the Virgin Islands and Miami Int'l in exchange for the government loan, which was to be paid back if the airline became profitable. However, no such flights ever materialised.

The former premier, Orlando Smith, admitted the deal had been a failed investment. Fahie has described the loan as a “scam” but has admitted that no clear paper trail exists to trace the investment.