British Virgin Islands appoints new premier after Fahie arrest | Politics News

Natalio Wheatley is sworn in as leader of the British overseas territory as it faces intense scrutiny for corruption.

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) has been sworn in to appoint Natalio Wheatley as the new prime minister following the removal of Andrew Fahie, who had arrested for drug offenses in the United States last week.

Thursday’s oath of office came after Governor John Rankin said he had revoked Fahie’s duties following a vote of no confidence in the British overseas territory’s House of Commons.

The BVI, one of the world’s leading offshore tax havens, is now facing intense scrutiny for possible corruption that could cost the UK Admin directly from London.

Wheatley, a former deputy prime minister who will now serve as finance minister, said his appointment was “another important and necessary step in renewing our cherished democracy and reforming our institutions.” “.

“I hope that this day will be remembered as the day we begin a new era of democratic governance,” he said.

Rankin, Queen Elizabeth II’s representative to the archipelago and its supreme executive authority, pledged to “work together in partnership” with Wheatley to improve governance of the archipelago.

A general view of Road Town, in the British Virgin Islands
BVI is one of the world’s leading foreign tax havens [Gabriella N Baez/Reuters]

Governance ‘urgent action’ needed

A commission of inquiry last week said the territory’s elected government should be dissolved and its constitution suspended for two years due to systemic dishonesty, returning it to direct rule. from United Kingdom.

Rose of report concluded that millions of dollars in state funds were spent without proper due process. It added that there was evidence of widespread abuse in appointments.

But Wheatley has in recent days said he wants to avoid direct UK rule, describing it as unacceptable and warning it would undermine the progress of generations of people. in the territory since 1950, when a local legislature was established.

Protests were also held on the islands against London’s recaptured control.

The investigation’s report is not directly related to Fahie’s arrest, but British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said his detention demonstrates the importance of the investigation and the need for “urgent action”. .

Fahie, 51, was arrested at Miami airport along with the territory’s Port Authority chief executive, Oleanvine Maynard.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) said Fahie in taped meetings with a classified source from the Drug Enforcement Administration agreed to help smuggle cocaine through the territory in exchange for a portion of the proceeds. If convicted, he faces a minimum of nearly 20 years in prison.

Fahie’s attorney has said he intends to plead not guilty to the charges when he is brought to court later this month and has called for his release on the grounds that he has diplomatic immunity in the US due to is the elected leader of the BVI.

The DOJ said no such immunity exists because the overseas territory is not a sovereign state.

British Virgin Islands Premier, Andrew Fahie.  The Prime Minister and director of ports of the Caribbean territory appeared in court in Miami on Friday, April 29, 2022. [Department of Information and Public Relations of the government of the British Virgin Islands via AP]
Fahie faces a minimum of nearly 20 years in prison if found guilty of the charges against him [Department of Information and Public Relations of the government of the British Virgin Islands via AP]

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