FORMER Fiji prime minister Mahendra Pal Chaudhry has pleaded not guilty to 12 offences relating to money laundering and tax evasion.
Chaudhry’s lawyer, Rajendra Chaudhry, who is also his son, entered the plea on behalf of his father in the Suva High Court today, Radio Fiji reported.
Rajendra Chaudhry also made an application for bail variation, saying his father needed to travel overseas for medical treatment.
Justice Daniel Goundar will rule on the bail variation next Friday.
Chaudhry, Fiji’s first ethnic Indian prime minister, 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 12 offences relating to tax evasion and money laundering, which date back to just after the coup.
It is alleged he held up to $400,000 in a Commonwealth Bank of Australia account and $50,000 was given to his daughter in Australia without procedures being followed.
The decree was brought in earlier this year to modernise Fiji’s laws and ensure consistent sentencing is handed down by the courts.