Documents from the Judicial Assistance case that the Attorney General of the BVI filed in United States District Court For The District Of Columbia as it sought discovery from former BVI Attorney and Washington lobbyist Lester Hyman revealed in figures how the lawyer monetarily benefited from the failed BVI Airways deal.
The matter went before the US Court as Attorney General Baba Aziz applied for judicial assistance to obtain evidence for use in a foreign proceeding according to US laws. It was noted that the evidence sought would be used in a contemplated civil lawsuit in the British Virgin Islands against Hyman who is a member of the District of Columbia Bar and represented the British Virgin Islands Government in Washington for approximately thirty years.
It was stated that Hyman served as the attorney for the Territory from 1987 and was still serving when the BVI Airways deal was struck. It was noted that he was only terminated on 30 July 2017.
In the shocking revelation, the documents stated that the investigations that were carried out by the government suggest that Hyman was a paid director of the failed airline and personally profited an undisclosed $10,000 in director’s fees, $2,500 for each in-person meeting, and stock options. Hyman was also likely a paid Director of at least one of the airline’s shareholder companies. Allegedly Hyman received a secret $200,000 finder’s fee from the airline and/or its promoters for putting the deal together with the BVI Government; and it was explained that Hyman did not disclose any of this information to the BVI Government.
It was also learned that after the Government terminated Hyman, he attempted to re-characterise his role from that of attorney to that of “honest mediator,” but he later admitted to working on both sides of the transaction. In the case, it was noted that the BVI Government cited numerous emails between Mr. Hyman and the then-Premier of the BVI (Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith) which showed that he failed to disclose important red flags about the airline investment to his client.
Additionally, it was revealed that Hyman attempted to convince the then-Premier to sign a side letter containing clauses adverse to the BVI Government’s interests and Hyman apparently pushed the Government to enter into the airline venture.
It was disclosed that in June of 2019, the BVIG’s current attorneys requested the BVIG’s client file from Hyman and was informed that despite having had the BVIG as a client for 30 years Hyman responded that there was neither a client file nor any form of written communications ever created because all of his meetings were in person or over the phone. However, it was noted that the Government has many emails and documents between Government and Hyman regarding the failed airline venture, thus suggesting that Mr. Hyman’s response was rather inaccurate.
Additionally, when asked by the BVIG’s current attorneys about the remuneration that he received as director of the failed airline venture. According to the US court documents the BVI Attorney General is planning to file charges here in the Territory against Hyman for fraud in equity, breach of fiduciary care and loyalty, and negligence.
It was further explained that the proceedings in the US Court were necessary because the allegations the Attorney General is contemplating are very serious, and therefore the AG wanted to conduct investigations and discovery to ensure the accuracy of its founding pleading for use before the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court at the BVI (“BVI High Court”).
The documents stated that Attorney General Aziz declared that Hyman while acting within the scope of his legal representation introduced certain business promoters from the United States to the BVI Government in late 2013 or early 2014. “These promoters proposed starting an airline that would operate nonstop commercial flights between Miami and the BVI. The BVIG ultimately invested $7,200,000 in the airline which never went into operation, and the other investors never invested any money before burning up the BVIG’s investment.”