23 Jul 2010

Chaudhry charged with tax evasion

8:37 pm on 23 July 2010

Former Fijian prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry has been charged with tax evasion and money laundering.

The interim government's media arm, the Ministry of Information, issued a release on Friday saying Mr Chaudhry was interviewed the previous day by the criminal investigations department and then released.

It says 12 charges have been laid by police and Mr Chaudhry was in police custody.

He appeared in Suva Magistrate's Court on Friday afternoon and was bailed to appear in the High Court at the end of the month.

The government has denied reports that the former Labour Party leader spent the night in a police cell.

Vijay Narayan, news editor of Fiji Communications, who was in court, said the charges included failing to surrender foreign currency.

He says the allegation relates to $1.9 million over the past 10 years.

Mr Chaudhry was the interim government's finance minister until 2008 and was the first Indo-Fijian to be elected prime minister, but was deposed in a coup in 2000.