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Sole State witness

Shalveen Chand
Thursday, April 03, 2014

STATE prosecutors produced only one witness before closing their case in the trial of former prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry who faces three counts for violating the Foreign Exchange Control Act.

The morning began with Justice Paul Madigan setting out the guidelines for the four assessors as the trial proper commenced yesterday.

He told the assessors that in court, nobody received special favours, and that everyone before the court was equal, be it a former politician or a cleaner.

The assessors were also told to set aside their political affiliation and base their decision on the evidence provided in the court.

State prosecutor Clive Grossman delivered his opening address starting with the charges faced by Mr Chaudhry.

He said Mr Chaudhry was in violation of the Act because the law required him to bring into Fiji any money he had overseas if he had not declared it to the Reserve Bank of Fiji.

He said, according to the first count Mr Chaudhry between November 1, 2000 and July 23, 2010 had $AUS1.5million ($F2.5m) which he received from the people of India and kept in various banks in Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Grossman said in the second count Mr Chaudhry invested the money with a bank in Australia which is not authorised by the RBF.

He said according to the third count Mr Chaudhry then prolonged his investment with the bank in Australia thus being in violation of the Act.

RBF board secretary Sabrina Hannif gave sworn evidence verifying a letter sent to Mr Chaudhry by RBF lawyers telling him to comply with the RBF guidelines in regards to foreign currency abroad.

During cross examination she told the court there were no forms to fill but a written declaration if someone were to declare foreign currency abroad.

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