6 Sep 2005

Former Fiji multi-ethnic affiars minister on trial for defrauding govt

8:21 pm on 6 September 2005

The trial has begun in the Suva High Court of Fiji's former multi-ethnic affairs minister, George Shiu Raj, on charges of defrauding the state and obtaining money by false pretences.

Th charges relate to Raj travelling to India by economy class on two separate occasions a year apart when his ministry paid for business class travel.

On one occasion Raj used the difference in fares to fly his wife and another person to India while on the second occasion he is alleged to have used the money himself.

The managing director of Hunts Travel Service, Shashi Pal, is also on trial for colluding with Raj to defraud the state.

Raj returned the money to the government when questions were raised by auditors but was forced to resign in November last year when he was charged by police.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, took over the multi-ethnic affairs portfolio saying if Raj was found not guilty, he would have his cabinet position back.