#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: FLP should suspend Chaudhry until money laundering charges resolved

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

FLP should suspend Chaudhry until money laundering charges resolved

Chaudhry and Chautala

Three years before Victor Lal exposed Mahendra Chaudhry’s secret millions in an Australian bank account, he had, in December 2005, challenged Chaudhry through Fiji’s Daily Post opinion column to answer some searching questions about the collection of money by Haryana’s Chief Minister, Om Prakash Chautala. In a cruel twist, both Chaudhry and Chautala appeared in court in August of this year charged with various offences. While Chaudhry is facing money laundering and tax evasion charges in Fiji, the 75-year-old Chautala is charged in India with of being in possession of immovable and movable assets disproportionate to known sources of his income; Chautala’s two sons, Ajay and Abhay Singh Chautala, both Haryana MLAs, are also facing similar charges.

‘Haryanagate’ is no ‘Silly Matter’ 

The FLP should suspend Chaudhry until the matter is satisfactorily resolved for his sake and the party’s political survival. And the following questions need to be asked:

·When did Chaudhry learn of the funds collected for him in his ancestral homeland?
· What did he do to encourage or stop the collection of funds?
· Why has Indo-Fiji Friendship Society (IFFS) issued denials and clarifications now and not Chaudhry or the FLP?
·  Was Chaudhry patron-in-chief of the IFFS, as claimed by its secretary Sher Singh Badshami?
·  What about allegations that thousands of dollars were also collected in Australia, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom? 

By VICTOR LAL

IT WAS a sight that had shocked and annoyed many ordinary Indo-Fijians in August 2000, and has now come to haunt Mahendra Pal Chaudhry’s political career. One angered Indo-Fijian, after seeing Chaudhry in a green Hindu turban, with clapped lotus-like hands greeting the adoring crowd, wrote to the Fiji Times from Ba, calling upon Chaudhry to return permanently to Bahu Jamalpur, a village which lies on the outskirts of Rohtak town in Haryana, and from whence Chaudhry’s grandfather, Ram Nath, came in 1911 to Fiji as a bonded coolie labourer.

I thought the writer from Ba was slightly harsh on the recently deposed Prime Minister Chaudhry, who had just emerged from 56 days of captivity at the hands of the pseudo-Fijian nationalist George Speight. After all, it is very fashionable for political leaders, whether in the United States, Australia, New Zealand or elsewhere, to return to their ancestral roots.

In Chaudhry’s case, it was doubly important for him to seek succour and help from ‘Mother India’, then unfortunately run by an extreme right-wing Hindu Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) government. Unlike thousands of us who can no longer trace our roots and relatives in India, I thought Chaudhry was uniquely placed to exploit the ‘Haryana connection’ if it helped mitigate the Indo-Fijians sufferings, lootings, beatings, rapes, and religious vandalism in the aftermath of the Speight coup. I was not aware that funds were already being collected even before Chaudhry had landed in Haryana. It also seems, if we are to believe Chaudhry that he himself was, and until recently still was not, aware of any funds collected in the so-called ‘Haryanagate’ scandal.

Chaudhry in Harayana land
In August 2000 Chaudhry arrived in New Delhi on a 10-day visit at the invitation of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Chaudhry had arrived by a Singapore Airlines flight, accompanied by his wife. He had gone to India to drum up support for the restoration of democracy and human rights in Fiji. He was, and still is, a few Indo-Fijians who commands widespread support, if not sympathy, in the land of his forefathers. His cause was greatly helped by the BJP government and its political allay, the then Chief Minister of Haryana, Om Prakash Chautala.

The Indian Minister for Agriculture Chaoba Singh, Chautala and chief protocol officer M. P. Singh received him. The deposed Prime Minister of Fiji waved at the waiting Indian media outside the VIP lounge of the Indira Gandhi International Airport but did not speak to them despite requests. The Haryana Chief Minister’s son Ajay Chautala and relatives of Chaudhry were also present at the airport to receive him. During his captivity, his relatives had actively sought Vajpayee’s help to free Chaudhry from Speight’s clutches.

Ironically, for some of Chaudhry’s warring relatives, whose ugly feud over four hectares of his property in Bahu Jamalpur, his coming was anticipated as a defining moment. The two warring relatives had been fighting to wrest control of the disputed property belonging to Chaudhry’s grandfather. As one Indian journalist put it, ‘A court verdict may not satisfy them and the dispute could end up before the man who survived a coup and ethnic onslaught. The prime minister without a land to rule would be the final judge’.

Chaudhry had never visited Bahu Jamalpur in Haryana. And when he did visit Haryana on 17 August 2000, he went to Rohtak, which is 90km from Bahu Jamalpur. He was, accompanied by Om Prakash Chautaa, driven down from New Delhi and was formerly received at the Teliyar tourist complex by Haryana’s Governor Bhai Parmanand.  The people of Bahu Jamalpur, who had held nightlong vigils and had offered prayers during Chaudhry’s 56 days as prisoner, did finally greet their hero.

In Rothak, welcome arches and flag-waving school children greeted Chaudhry. According to Indian newspapers, the Chautala government had forced government-sponsored schools to line up their students by the roadside in the scorching heat. He was feted at a public reception by the Chautala’s Haryana State government. He was given a hero’s welcome, with his struggles to uphold Indo-Fijian rights likened to the South African President Nelson Mandela’s crusade against White apartheid in old racist South Africa. In his speech, according to Indian newspaper reports, Chaudhry told a cross-section of politicians and a gathering of up to 8,000 people who had turned up to cheer him that his struggle to restore democracy in Fiji would be fraught with danger because the guns were still in the hands of rebels who had overthrown his Peoples Coalition Government.

The politicians who had come to listen to him were the Congress Party, the BJP, the Haryana Vikas Party (HVP), the Bahujan Samaj party and the Communist Party of India-Marxist. The former Deputy Indian Prime Minister Devi Lal (no relative of mine, by the way) was also present for a while. In his speech, Chaudhry also told the gathering that it was the second time in 13 years that a democratically elected government in Fiji had been overthrown on racist grounds, and urged the international community not to be taken in by the promises made by the incumbent military-backed Laisenia Qarase interim Fijian government on the restoration of democracy in the country. ‘I have not received such a reception at home,’ Chaudhry told the crowd. ‘For a moment it appeared as if I was in my own political constituency.’

In his address to the gathering, Chautala, likened Chaudhry’s struggle to Mandela’s in South Africa, and also dramatically announced that his government would present a purse of Rs 16 million to Chaudhry before he returns home on 26 August 2000. Chautala said all the State’s subjects would be requested to contribute Rs 1 to the purse.

Question:  Did Chaudhry hear of Chautala’s announcement at this reception? If so, what was his response to the planned fund-raising? What did he do to encourage or stop the collection in August 2000?

Prime Minister to Doctor Chaudhry
During his visit to Rohtak, the returning prodigal son was also conferred an honorary doctorate by the 8th Special Convocation of the Rohtak’s Maharisi Dayanand University. Again, according to Indian press reports, receiving the doctorate, Chaudhry had to remind the audience that though his grandfather and father hailed from Haryana, he was born and brought up in Fiji. Chaudhry received the doctorate with a sense of great joy and pride and also some regret. ‘This could have occurred in happier times for me and my countrymen, Fijians.’ The honorary doctorate was awarded to him in recognition of his pioneering and exemplary service in improving the lot of his countrymen and his fight for democracy and social justice. The degree was awarded by Governor Parmanand, also the Chancellor of the University.

To his credit, Chaudhry repeatedly stressed his Fijian moorings again and again. He did not utter a word against George Speight and his goons who had held him captive. Neither did he say anything against the rulers who had sent Speight to prison. According to Indian journalists covering Chaudhry’s visit, throughout the day, different Haryani speakers kept forgetting that Chaudhry’s middle name was Pal and not Pratap.

But ‘Pratap’, which means courage, had become so synonymous with him that nobody, even Chaudhry himself minded that. He did however manage to win the day despite having betrayed popular sentiment by not uttering a word in Hindi. As one journalist put it, ‘even at the reception where the pro-subsidy, pro-free electricity farmers had gathered, Chaudhry spoke in a foreign tongue’. It was, as the journalist put it, a rude culture shock for the suave Chaudhry, impeccable in a blue-grey suit. But Chautala would have none of it. Throughout the day he fought hard to steal the show. Buoyed by a wave of jingoism which largely uneducated Haryanis had fallen for, Chautala raged throughout the day.

Why was Om Prakash Chuatala so upbeat and excited about Chaudhry’s visit to his home state? Was he planning to add the thousands of rupees, to be collected for Chauhdry, to the millions for which he would be subsequently charged by the Indian authorities? At the reception, however, Chautala told the masses: ‘Chaudhry is fighting an arduous battle for restoring democracy and we want him to know that we fully support him.’

Haryana Congress raises Fiji fund scandal
It was not long however before Chautala’s political opponents sensed blood. In January 2003, the Pradesh Congress demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the source of the money allegedly earmarked for Chaudhry. The Haryana Congress president and former Chief Minister, Bhajan Lal, at a news conference on 18 January in Chandigarh, sought to know the details of the funds collected in Haryana and demanded a CBI probe into its sources.

However, the so-called Indo-Fiji Friendship Society and the then ruling Indian National Lok Dal (INDL) had dismissed allegations of committing any irregularities. The Haryana INLD president and society member, Sher Singh Badshami, in a statement, refuted the allegations levelled by the Congress leaders, including the Legislature Party leader, Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Badshami termed them as ‘baseless’. He said Chautala had nothing to do with the IFFS. The society president was Inder Singh, MP, while the treasurer was Ram Lal of Rania., and the patron-in-chief was Chaudhry himself, Badshami said. He said the Rs 1 crore received from the public had been deposited in the society’s name in a bank in Chandigarh.

On 21 January 2003, Chautala offered to hold a probe into the alleged misuse of funds collected by the IFFFS. Addressing a press conference he said the society, headed by INDL MP from Rohtak, Inder Singh, had collected funds for the specific purpose as ousted Chaudhry hailed from Rohtak district. He maintained that the society had been maintaining proper records of the funds and the money was safely lying in a bank account. Chautala said the Opposition was raking up the issue to defame him.

The protestations failed to wish away the controversy. On 28 January 2003, the Indian Youth Congress demanded the dismissal of Chautala for failing to adhere to ‘constitutional norms’. An IYC delegation, led by its President, Randeep Singh Surjewala, presented a memorandum to Governor Parmanand, on this issue, and also urged the Governor to order a CBI probe to find out the truth about the quantum of money collected and the IFFS which was said to be in possession of the funds. The memorandum contained a blow-by-blow account of Chautala’s announcement to collect the fund for Chaudhry.

The memorandum questioned why money in crores collected in the name of Chaudhry was not handed over to him even 31 months after August 26, 2000, when he was supposed to be presented with the collection. It claimed that workers of all political parties and others collected money to the tune of Rs 6 crore, and a majority of the donations were received in cash. The memorandum also pointed out the contradictions between Badshami, who claimed the money was collected only in the form of bank drafts and cheques, and Chautala’s announcement about collecting R1 from each Haryani. The Indian Youth Congress asked exactly how much money was collected.

The memorandum said it had now been stated by the IFFS that the money would be utilised for Non-Resident Indians of Haryana origin and not for Chaudhry questioning that was the justification of raising the money then. It also asked for the date on which the money was deposited in Oriental Bank of Commerce, sector 19, Chandigarh. It also asked as to who was in possession of the money between August 2000, and the day when it was deposited in the bank. Claiming that ‘fraud by Mr Chautala and his party is thus writ large’ in the Fiji episode, the memorandum said when a person holding the highest office in the State was engaged in defrauding the people of the State, it amounted to his ceasing to hold allegiance to the law of the land. The use of government officials in the fraud also amounted to violation of Article 164(3) read with Third Schedule of the Constitution of India, stated the memorandum.

The episode, one Indian journalist, recently noted, has frightened many prospective ordinary donors from responding to donations in times of disasters, and they have every reason to do so for running away from donation-seekers. In 2002, when Chaudhry participated in the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (the much celebrated Non-Resident Indian gathering), Chautala was nowhere to be seen. When an Indian newspaper asked him why he did not hand over the money to Chaudhry, Chautala said the transfer involved two sovereign countries (India and Fiji).

If so, why did he raise the money in the first place? Badshami, while refuting Congress claim, said only Rs1.2 crore was collected and it was to date deposited in a branch of Union Bank of India in Panchukla. Though Badshami said that Chaudhry was a member of the Committee, he did not have either his number or address. What a ridiculous and breath-taking explanation?

Question: Was Chaudhry, as Badshami claims, a patron-in-chief of the IFFS?
In November 2004, when Chautala was charged by the Indian authorities with the disappearance of millions of dollars, including funds collected for the Fiji Labour Party, Chaudhry denied reports that Chautala had collected funds for the party which were later stolen. He labelled such reports as ‘mischief making’ and a ‘smear campaign’ against the FLP. On 14 January 2003, the Indian Express quoted Chaudhry as saying, ‘I am hopeful that Chautala will honour the promise he made to the Indians of Fiji’. It said that when Chauhdry made inquiries, he was told that 2.5 crore rupees (about FJ$1 million) had been collected and put in the bank. ‘I was not given anything and I decided not to press the matter further at that point,’ Chauhdry had allegedly told the Indian Express then.

What is the Truth?
A radio report in Fiji stated in November 2004 that the FLP sources had confirmed that Chautala collected funds for the party to fight its court cases relating to the Constitution. When contacted, Chaudhry said: ‘There was absolutely no funds collected for the FLP by anybody and we have not asked anyone to collect funds on our behalf. ‘It is mischief making and a smear campaign against the Labour Party to discredit us because the elections are around the corner,’ he said. ‘It is pure mischief making by the radio station and we have asked them to retract the report, failing which they will face the legal consequences,’ he said. Chaudhry said people making such allegations should either come up with evidence or shut up. 

The most recent to raise the issue is the Prime Minister, who asked in Parliament: ‘I challenge him to tell us the complete truth about the funds that were raised there for him in Haryana State. Where are those funds now and what are they used for? How much money is held in bank accounts and who are the signatories?’ But Chaudhry said Qarase should come up with evidence. ‘He is just being silly. Let him come up with evidence before making wild accusations? He refused to admit or deny any knowledge of the funds.

Now, the evidence has come straight from the horse’s mouth – Chaudhry’s hosts in Haryana in 2000 – the Chautalas and Sher Singh Badshami. The INDL general secretary and Chautala’s son, Ajay Singh Chautala has welcomed any probe into the controversial money collection for Chaudhry by the previous INLD government in Haryana. He has admitted that his father did collect the money and it is deposited in the Oriental Bank of Commerce in the account of the Indo-Fijian Friendship Society, He said because of problems related to the international law, this amount could not be transferred to Fiji.

Badshami says they would have no objection if the present Laisenia Qarase government arranged the transfer of this money to Fiji, presumably for Chaudhry and the Fiji Labour Party.

Will Chaudhry accept the money?

Above all, to put the Nixonian question – when did Chaudhry know that funds were being collected for him, and how did he know?

What more evidence he needs before he admits or denies any knowledge of the funds that was collected in Haryana in August 2000? 

Editor's Note: In recent days the Fiji court has heard that Chaudhry failed to declare AUD$1.5million given to him in India. It's alleged he took the money to Australia and then lent it to other people, without being an authorized dealer. According to the prosecuting team, the Exchange Control Act stipulates that if you are a Fiji resident, money disposed overseas should be brought back to Fiji and be declared. In Chaudhry's defence, Queens Counsel Peter Williams, told the court Chaudhry thought he was entitled to keep the money without authorization. Chaudhry is charged with 12 counts of money laundering, tax evasion and giving false information to the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority.

24 comments:

mark manning said...

Go Victor, let's expose them all for what they are, low life thieves and opportunists, Frank, Aiyaz, the Shameem sisters and the like !

Vevik Nath said...

Chaudhry bashing seems to give pro democracy supporters false joy after failing to bring any real challenge to Bainimarama and Khaiyum. I want to say that all these people who are attcking chaudhry are venting thier frustration in vain while Nur Bano and Khaiyum are busy raiding the mational treasury. Stop this nonsense of flagging a dead horse.
Chaudhry may be guilty of pocketing the indian money, but is a far better person than khaiyum and I would rather support him than bigger crook like Nur Bano and Khaiyum.

Miaw said...

Add NBF debtors to the list !!!

Anonymous said...

Cahudry case is in court in fiji and not media, what is this victor guy talking about - is he a court judge?

Victor boy see if you can expose the puppet master and tin pot dictator?

Looks like bad blood with chaudry.

Anonymous said...

I want ANNA HARARE the anti corruption hero involved in this matter.What part did the Indian ministers etc play in Chaudhry;s millions?Expose Chaudhry in Hariyana so that Hariyanis and his relatives come to know the man is a thief.a rogue,a robber.The rupiyas given to him belong to the poor Indians of Fiji.Shame on Chautala and co--shame on Chaudhry.

Anonymous said...

Was Chaudhry's father born in Fiji or Hariyana?--His millions should be frozen like that of Gaddafi and other crooks.some money can be given to Dr Satendar Nandan(Sri Yukt)---so that he can write more books and invite the AG Aiyarse to launch his books.

Anonymous said...

What is done in the dark will be pronounced from the rooftop. Truth always emerges. Truth always prevail and Truth always win.

Anonymous said...

Medical professions beware - Cobra now a Dr.

Taukei. said...

Quicker this morally corrupt defacto Indian nationlist departs Viti's political landscape - better things will be.

Anonymous said...

I have been saying it for years that MC is a thief and a dictator in his own right. Just ask the people in the flp he has run the flp with an iron fist, no democracy in the flp, it's his way or the highway. I say it's time to kick him out and the flp should write to the Australian taxation department asking for a freeze on all the funds he acquired through fraudulent method

Anonymous said...

Theft is theft be it a bottle of beer or a box, so by saying he stole less than the other person makes him a better person is an oxymoron

Anonymous said...

KUDOS VICTOR!!!!!!!

The Next Commander said...

Aslam Khan has moved $2 million dollars to Australia and $1.5 million to NZ already.Ask the FIRCA guy who refused to give him clearance a few years ago!!!!How he managed thereafter....only Aiyaz can say or maybe Berenado Vunibobo who was found not guity by Aslam's wife Nazhat as the then DPP when she couldn't find sufficient evidence to prosecute Aslam's then Telecom boss (Minister Vunibobo)

Anonymous said...

Dr Neil Sharma--another crook.Was sued in privale practice---unproffessional.

Anonymous said...

I live in Fiji, am not a Labour party supporter and pray that democracy returns fast. What I find irritating though are boring articles from Victor Lal on Chaudhry. It is cowardly attack.

Anonymous said...

I have known chaudhry for decades and years. A man with dangerous and dictatorial characters, he could easily change his skin, camouflage his colors without much notice. Two things I always see in him when it comes to LYING. 1ST- He is not afraid to tell lies when it comes to character assassinations of his rivalries or when he is caught and challenged of something illegal or wrong. 2nd- The man can DENY a thousand times more than Peter, and the public will easily chilled off.

Anonymous said...

The call to FLP to remove chaudhry is like to Military people to remove bainimarama. Chaudhry to FLP is like Bainimarama to the FMF.

By the story of Dr Lal, Chaudhry is just like Bainimarama, a man with no sense of humility, ethics, professionalism, self realisation. Why can't Chaudhry be like a man and humbly stands aside, let others lead FLP. I tell you, FLP would be a real Laborers’ Party & 100% better without Chaudhry in his current saga.

Anonymous said...

sounds like sour grapes money was for chaudhry not flp or anyone else money was to be deposited into chaudhry's account in sydney not fiji

Vanua. said...

FLP suspend him? Can't - because right now him and the idiot son who can't get his mind above his trouser belt "are" the FLP.

Sooner these people are removed from Viti's polluted political landscape - clearer the picture will become.

Anonymous said...

bring back krishna dutt or dr tupenni baba to led the flp.

Moce said...

Chaudhry is one stubborn asshole that can pretend to be your friend one day and isolate you the next. This guy is first grade snake and someone I would not trust.

Time for him to spend quality time in jail with Bai, ASK & all relatives, YP Reddy & family and Tappoo & family. That will be one full jail containing fraudster of Fiji.

Democracy for Fiji and NOW is the time to make change! Move quickly people of Fiji. ACT FAST and REMOVE THE THUGS FROM POWER!

Anonymous said...

felix anthony will be next leader of FLP

Anonymous said...

I hope that you guys who have been supporting him and "THE CAUSE", will now eventually know the true charector of the person, and his "MOTIVES".

He thinks of himself only using FLP, Farmers Union, Arya Samaj etc..and I hope that you guys shold now learn and know the "TRUTH".

To Brother Chaudary!

1 Timothy 6:10 says: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

As of now..griefs are beginning yo pierce you and remember this is only the beginning!

God Bless

Anonymous said...

Thanks to "conman" David Pfliger, the people of Fiji and the Pacific are being exposed to new American management style as Pfliger builds a wall (28 expat at last count) of consultants paid by taxpayers. If you don't know HR, hire expensive consultants, if you don't know engines and airframes, hire expensive consultants, if you don't know finance, hire expensive consultants, if you can't prove that you are a pilot to our Fiji Captains who fly 747-400, hide your log book, if you want to screw the staff of Air Pacific whom you can't negotiate against, hire expensive New York lawyers, if you want to destroy our national airline and deny locals, make life difficult so they quit Air Pacific and look for jobs off-shore. Thanks David, you are an arse-hole!