Fiji Time: 3:56 AM on Tuesday 25 October

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Request for stay

Shalveen Chand
Friday, May 16, 2014

FORMER prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry filed for a stay on his sentence in the High Court in Suva yesterday.

Chaudhry was found guilty of breaching the Exchange Control Act after he failed to declare $A1.5million ($F2.5m) kept in an Australian bank without the knowledge of the Reserve Bank of Fiji.

Chaudhry was sentenced to pay a fine of $2million and in default, spend 15 months in jail.

Yesterday, Chaudhry's lawyer Anand Singh told Justice Paul Madigan they wanted a stay on the sentence or in the alternative, a suspension of the sentence.

Mr Singh said the application was being made because Chaudhry was appealing his conviction and sentence.

He said the amount of the fine would cost Chaudhry extra money to get his funds from Australia.

Justice Madigan told Mr Singh that one of the orders given to Chaudhry was to repatriate his funds to Fiji.

On the alternative ground for suspension of the sentence, Justice Madigan said the law under which the application was made, was only relevant to prison terms.

He said Chaudhry had not been sentenced to jail but to pay a fine.

Justice Madigan added Chaudhry could pay the fine and if he won the appeal, the money would be returned to him.

He said there were no case authorities that said the court had the powers to give a stay on the sentence.

Justice Madigan said he would have to peruse all documents and see if the grounds of appeal by Chaudhry are likely to succeed, then he could decide on the stay.

He told Mr Singh the grounds in the appeal were regurgitated applications that the court had seen in the interlocutory matters, in the recusal application and other various applications made before him. Justice Madigan will deliver a ruling on the stay application on notice in the next two to three days.

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