Former Fiji PM faces laundering, tax evasion charges | india | Hindustan Times
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Former Fiji PM faces laundering, tax evasion charges

Ousted Fiji prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry appeared in court in Suva today on a raft of charges including money laundering and tax evasion, reporters in the court said.

india Updated: Jul 23, 2010 17:53 IST

Ousted Fiji prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry appeared in court in Suva on Friday on a raft of charges including money laundering and tax evasion, reporters in the court said.

Chaudhry became Fiji's first ethnic Indian leader when elected prime minister in 1999 and was overthrown a year later in a coup led by nationalist George Speight.

The 12 charges date back to just after the coup and include providing false information to the Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority (FIRCA).

Chaudhry was briefly finance minister in the current military-led government of Voreqe Bainimarama during which time an independent audit cleared him of any wrongdoing in relation to his overseas financial dealings.

It is alleged he held up to 400,000 dollars (nearly $ 200,000) in a Commonwealth Bank of Australia account and 50,000 dollars given to his daughter in Australia was made without procedures being followed.

Chaudhry was taken in for questioning on Thursday and told to surrender his passport.

He has been released on bail and will reappear in court next week.

In the May 19, 2000 coup Speight and a group of soldiers seized the Fiji parliament and held Chaudhry and his government hostage for 56 days.

During the hostage period, the Fiji military took control and installed Laisenia Qarase as interim prime minister.

Qarase won a democratic election the following year only to be overthrown by military leader Bainimarama in a 2006 coup.