British Virgin Islands premier appears in Miami court after drug arrest

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By Brian Ellsworth

MIAMI (Reuters) - The premier of the British Virgin Islands appeared in a Miami courtroom on Friday after being accused of money laundering and conspiring to import cocaine in a case that has embarrassed the British overseas territory.

Andrew Fahie, 51, was arrested at a Miami airport along with the managing director of the territory's Ports Authority, Oleanvine Maynard, according to a complaint by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The hearing coincided with the release on Friday of a report commissioned by Queen Elizabeth's representative in the territory which concluded that its constitution and elected government should be suspended due to concerns about dishonest governance.

Fahie and Maynard, dressed in what appeared to be prison uniforms, appeared via Zoom in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Judge Jonathan Goodman scheduled a pre-trial detention hearing for Wednesday and a preliminary hearing for May 13.

According to the complaint, a DEA informant claimed in meetings with Fahie, Maynard and her son Kadeem Maynard to be a cartel member looking to move thousands of kilograms of Colombian cocaine through the territory's Tortola island and eventually to the United States.

"Surely following the arrest of its Premier, the (UK Foreign Office) should now take direct control of the British Virgin Islands pending a further investigation into corruption and money laundering?" Chris Bryant, an opposition Labour member of the British parliament, tweeted on Friday.

(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth in Miami, additional reporting by Kate Holton in London; Editing by Howard Goller and Kevin Liffey)

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