30 Jul 2010

Former Fiji prime minister Chaudhry enters not guilty plea

7:07 pm on 30 July 2010

The former Fiji prime minister, Mahendra Pal Chaudhry, has pleaded not guilty today to 12 offences relating to money laundering and tax evasion.

Chaudhry's lawyer, Rajendra Chaudhry, entered the plea on behalf of his father in the Suva High Court, saying it was based on the provisions of Fiji's new Crimes Decree.

Rajendra Chaudhry also made an application for bail variation, saying his father needed to travel overseas for medical treatment.

Chaudhry, Fiji's first ethnic Indian leader, was deposed as prime minister in a nationalist coup in 2000 after being held hostage for 56 days.

He was arrested by Fiji police last week and charged with the offences, which date back to just after the coup.

It's alleged he held up to 360,000 US dollars in a Commonwealth Bank of Australia account and 45,000 was given to his daughter in Australia without procedures being followed.