2 May 2014

Fiji's Chaudhry fined US$1.1m

4:50 pm on 2 May 2014

The High Court in Fiji has fined a former prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, 1.1 million US dollars for breaching the Exchange Control Act.

The Labour Party leader has been given until the end of next month to pay the fine or he will be jailed for 15 months.

A month ago he was found guilty of having banked almost 1.5 million US dollars outside Fiji without the consent of the Reserve Bank of Fiji.

Chaudhry says he is considering lodging an appeal against his conviction and sentence.

He says the fine will be difficult to pay, and his lawyers are looking into the sentence and decide whether to appeal next week.

"It will be difficult for me to meet that deadline and that's why I've asked my lawyers to look at the possibility of an appeal. So depending on their advice, we'll see what to do."

Mahendra Chaudhry refused to comment on his future in politics, but the fact he holds a conviction now rules him out of contesting this year's election.

Chaudhry is the second former Fiji prime minister to be convicted for a financial crime after the 2012 jailing of Laisenia Qarase.

The regime leader, Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama, who is yet to formalise his candidacy, is still under police investigations for breaches that could see him jailed.