Over $100 Million Worth of Unlicensed Charter Vessels Detained by Customs

More than $100 million worth of charter vessels belonging to The Moorings BVI were detained on Wednesday by the Customs Department after approximately 138 vessels were found to be either unlicensed or without duties paid.

This was confirmed by the Commissioner of Customs Mr. Wade Smith during an interview with 284News on Thursday.

The issue was first brought to the attention of our newsroom after several tourists took to the Facebook group BVI Abroad, to express their frustration with the Moorings BVI and other local charter companies.

According to the Facebook posts, the general consensus from the paying visitors was that they were beyond frustrated, after their fully paid charter vessel was detained by Customs for not being in full compliance with the BVI laws.

This they said resulted in a number of chartered guests missing out on a couple days of sailing.

This development prompted our news team to reach out to the Commissioner of Customs Mr. Wade Smith to gain clarity on the situation.

According to Smith, Customs have been working with the Moorings and other charter companies for months, to get them to be in compliance with the Safety Certificate from the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry and equipped with a Commercial Recreation Vessel License.

After failing to acquire the necessary license or safety certificate, several officers from the Customs department were deployed to the Moorings facility where approximately 138 vessels were detained and several undocumented workers discovered.

Smith said the Moorings were also fined $110,000 and ordered to pay another $140,000 plus in duties for 30 vessels that were previously detained during a December 2021 operation on Virgin Gorda.

Commissioner Smith also informed that the company has been given an extension deadline date of April 15 to ensure their vessels are fully compliant with the BVI laws and requirements.

He said if the company fails to have the vessels licensed by the deadline period, 5 percent of the value of the vessel will be charged as required under the Customs Management Duty Act.

With a value of over $100 million for the 138 detained vessels presently detained, it means the Moorings will be required to pay in excess of $5 million in duties.

Meanwhile, the Customs boss also informed our newsroom that there were three other companies found to be in breach of the compliant requirements within the last two weeks.

These included Dream Yachts Charter, Captain’s Compass charter company and Robert Swain Sailing School.

Efforts to reach personnel within the Moorings to get a response on the situation were unsuccessful.

However, in a Facebook post, the Moorings indicated that they were aware of various reports regarding Customs regulations, which they said were causing delays and cancellations for some charter guests arriving in the territory.

The Moorings also indicated that there will not be accepting any new bookings for BVI charters departing prior to April 15, 2022.