British Virgin Islands ex-premier Fahie pleads not guilty to drug charges

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FILE PHOTO: British Virgin Islands Premier Andrew Fahie poses in an undated photograph

By Brian Ellsworth

MIAMI (Reuters) - Former British Virgin Islands Premier Andrew Fahie pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiring to launder money and import cocaine to the United States, his attorney said on Wednesday, following his arrest in Miami.

Fahie was ousted as the British overseas territory's premier this month after the U.S. Department of Justice said he had agreed with a Drug Enforcement Administration informant to help smuggle cocaine in exchange for a cut of the proceeds.

Attorney Theresa Van Vliet, consulted about the issue by Reuters, said Fahie pleaded not guilty.

Fahie was replaced by Natalio Wheatley, who had been serving as the territory's acting premier after Fahie's arrest.

The Department of Justice also charged Oleanvine Maynard, who had been the managing director for the British Virgin Islands ports authority, with the same crimes.

A commission of inquiry, which was independent of Fahie's arrest, last month said the territory should be effectively ruled from London due to governance and corruption problems.

(This story corrects last paragraph to replace "United Kingdom" with "commission of inquiry")

(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Mark Porter)