News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, May, 4, 2022: Premier of the British Virgin Islands, Andrew Alturo Fahie, was today ordered released on $500,000 surety bond by Judge Jonathan Goodman.
An attorney for Fahie made the request in a filing with Miami federal court. Fahie has since requested his release, claiming he is immune from prosecution because he is the elected, constitutional head of government of the British overseas territory.
He was taken into custody last week in South Florida on cocaine smuggling and was arrested during a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sting as he was preparing to board a private jet in Miami.
According to a criminal complaint, Fahie and Oleanvine Maynard, his ports director, had been at the airport to meet who they thought were Mexican drug traffickers but in reality, were undercover DEA agents.
In the criminal complaint, Maynard refers to Fahie as a “little crook sometimes” who wouldn’t hesitate to profit from a plan cooked up with the help of self-proclaimed Lebanese Hezbollah operatives to move mass quantities of cocaine and drug proceeds through the Caribbean island.
The shock arrest roiled the British Virgin Islands, where Fahie was already facing allegations of widespread corruption and seemed to bolster calls to suspend the constitution for two years to clean up government and return to home rule by officials from London.
Fahie, who also serves as the finance minister, was said to have traveled to Miami to attend a conference for the cruise industry and ahead of his departure had appointed a deputy to act as premier in his absence.
Gov. John Rankin, who is Queen Elizabeth II’s representative to the islands and its ultimate executive authority, said the arrests prompted him to release – earlier than originally intended – a report by a commission of inquiry launched in January 2021 to investigate allegations of widespread government fraud.
Gov. Rankin said the inquiry concluded that millions of dollars were spent on projects, some of them linked to allies of the premier, that were abandoned or found to be of no public benefit.
The commission had concluded that “unless the most urgent and drastic steps are taken, the current situation with elected officials deliberately ignoring the tenants of good governance will go on indefinitely,” Rankin told the televised news conference.