Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Hands off the Money - Court says to Chaudhry

by Samantha Rina

Fiji Times - Tuesday, December 07, 2010
FIJI Labour Party leader and former prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry was yesterday denied access to funds for medical treatment overseas.
This followed a ruling by the High Court that restricted Chaudhry from accessing funds held in Australia.
In one of nine conditions included in a ruling prepared by judge Justice Daniel Gounder but delivered by Justice Sithambarampillai Thurairaja, the court favoured the State's submission that funds in the accounts were the subject of charges filed against Chaudhry.
Justice Gounder further agreed that any access to the accounts would constitute an interference with the evidence of the case.
Chaudhry's lawyer had opposed conditions restricting access to the accounts concerned, saying the funds were required by his client to pay for his medical expenses in Australia but Justice Gounder ruled otherwise.
"In my opinion, a condition that an accused does not interfere with any evidence subject of a criminal charge is a reasonable bail condition that protects the welfare of the prosecution and the community," the judge said.
The accounts which Chaudhry has been restricted from accessing are:
* Commonwealth Managed Investment Fund Balanced Fund Account;
* Perpetual Investment Management Limited Perpetual Monthly Income Fund;
* Commonwealth Bank of Australia Cash Management Call Account, and
* Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Justice Gounder permitted that Chaudhry's passport be released so he could travel overseas for medical treatment between December 28, 2010 and January 26, 2011.
Chaudhry, who faces 12 counts including money laundering and tax evasion, was granted bail in the sum of $1000 and ordered not to change his address without the court's permission or to approach or harass prosecution witnesses. He will reappear in court on January 28, 2011.



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