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Chaudhry awaits ruling

Mere Naleba
Tuesday, April 29, 2014

THE High Court will rule tomorrow on an application by former prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry to be discharged from his Exchange Control Act convictions.

Mr Chaudhry's lawyer, Anand Singh, yesterday made an unusual "arrest of judgement" application before High Court judge Justice Paul Madigan against Justice Madigan's judgment that Chaudhry was found guilty of three counts of breaching the Exchange Control Act on April 5.

Mr Singh yesterday argued that the particulars of the offences his client was charged with were defective as the offence involves the accused person acting "in the circumstances without the consent of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji".

Mr Singh argued that Mr Chaudhry was charged under the Exchange Control Act which only recognises the Minister of Finance as having the right to permit any person to sell, borrow, lend or buy any gold or foreign currency.

However, Mr Singh said the information by the prosecution — the Director of Public Prosecutions — in this matter stated Mr Chaudhry had violated the Exchange Control Act after not getting permission from the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji.

"In the current instance, there was a fundamental defect in the charge, in that it did not correctly state the proper lawful authority whose permission was not obtained," Mr Singh said.

"The permission from the proper authority is an essential element of each of the charges under Section 3, 4 and 26 of the Exchange Control Act."

He said the proper authority as stated in the Act is the Finance Minister or the Reserve Bank and not the Governor of the RBF.

"The charge as laid therefore is an offence not known at law as there is no prescribed legal or statutory requirement under Section 3, 4 and 26 for permission to be required from the Governor of RBF," he said.

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