28 Apr 2005

Former Fiji minister pleads not guilty to charges of defrauding the state

10:13 am on 28 April 2005

Fiji's former minister for multi-ethnic affairs, George Shiu Raj, and travel agent Surendra Pal have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the state and obtaining money by false pretences.

The charges relate to Shiu Raj travelling overseas by economy class as minister when the state paid for business class travel and pocketing the difference.

Pal is the manager of Hunts Travel Agency in Suva which arranged the travel.

George Shiu Raj resigned as the minister for multi-ethnic affairs late last year when police laid the charges, with the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, saying he would keep the portfolio open in case Raj is acquitted.

The High Court trial will take place before Justice Gerard Winters who will hear a pretrial conference on June the 30th.