Blogger Victor Lal’s incessant chant on Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry’s donated funds is just repetitious nonsense.
The #Courts long ago cleared the air as to the source of the funds and its donors. This was further confirmed by a letter issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, stating that the funds were collected by the Indian public and the “transfer was authored by the Prime Minister of India, as a special gesture to enable Mr Chaudhry and his family to be taken care of due to the political upheavals in Fiji at the time”.
Victor Lal’s claim that the money was intended for the cane farmers which was later changed to poor Indo-Fijians who had fled the refugee camp in Lautoka, is just unadulterated crap, concocted by him and some well known Chaudhry and Labour bashers to discredit Mr Chaudhry. Well, they can go jump!
Surely, if such had been the case, the Government of India and the Indian public would have taken immediate remedial action against Mr Chaudhry.
Lal claims the money was acquired and used illegally. Nothing was illegal or unlawful. The money was banked in Mr. Chaudhry’s account in Australia by the Government of India.
In March 2008, following the hysteria kicked up in the media by Lal, the Bainimarama administration commissioned an independent #Inquiry into the allegations made by the media. The Inquiry #cleared Mr Chaudhry of all charges and made it clear that he had not breached any Fiji laws. Following the findings of the Inquiry, PM Bainimarama wrote to Chaudhry confirming that his government accepted the finding and had no further issues regarding the matter.
Why then did Bainimarama and Khaiyum take Mahendra Chaudhry to court on the issue in July 2010?
Most right thinking people know that Mahendra Chaudhry’s prosecution regarding the money was a #dirty tactics manoeuvre by Bainimarama and Khaiyum to disqualify him from fighting the 2014 general elections – by hook or by crook. They could not get him any other way.
They began to #target Mr Chaudhry when he became an outright critic in 2009 of the abrogation of the 1997 Constitution, the suspension of the judiciary and the draconian decrees that breached basic human rights, imposed rigorous censorship on the media, banned political and trade union activities and used the PER as an excuse to persecute critics of the regime.
They manipulated his conviction and then changed the Electoral laws to ensure that he could not contest the 2014 general elections.
Finally, Victor Lal and others who hound Mr Chaudhry regarding this donation should have the guts to question those who have, in fact, #stolen millions of dollars from the public purse and the people of Fiji. In the past 10 years Bainimarama and Khaiyum have not accounted for millions and millions of dollars of public funds, including their own million dollar salaries paid secretly through Khaiyum’s aunt’s accounting firm. This is Fiji money that is being stolen through an absolute lack of accountability.
Ask about allegations that millions are being stashed away in secret accounts in Dubai, Malaysia and China – proceeds of kickbacks from contracts.
Mr. Chaudhry, on the other hand, does not have a single financial scandal attached to his name throughout his 46 years as public figure and politician. In fact, over the decades, he has assisted people in every natural disaster with his own money. He has been at the front of every natural disaster relief programme during his long tenure as MP and Prime Minister.
Go climb another tree, Vector.
Likes: Shailendra G Raju, Nikhil Singh and 14 others
Fijileaks: Mahendra Chaudhry had also defended Frank Bainimarama's bogus $185,000 back pay.
By the way, some now liking the FLP post were in the forefront of helping Lal hunt for the millions!
This was the only letter, purporting to be from one 'Harbhajan Lal', he presented to FRCA, through his accountant Nalin Patel to explain away the source of the fund. We challenge him to produce Harbhajan Lal to us! In the letter Harbhajan Lal writes to Chaudhry: "You have asked for the details of the funds" and then goes on to explain the transactions from 2000 to 2002. Its mind blowing that he was 'asking' about the funds when his tax file (I have the complete copy) reveal that one or all of his family members were dipping into those millions in Sydney and also moving monies into investments accounts - and -
MAHENDRA PAL CHAUDHRY WAS IN FIJI all that time!
Victor Lal has scoured through Mr Chaudhry’s 148 page tax file and there is no letter dated 12 October 2004 from the Delhi Study Group to FIRCA about the two million dollars.
Perjury probe request in Mahendra Chaudhry’s affidavit before Justice Daniel Goundar in the Fiji High Court and call for other criminal investigations arising out of Mr Chaudhry’s income tax file
By VICTOR LAL and RUSSELL HUNTER, 4 September 2012
After Justice Goundar’s recent judgment Victor Lal wrote to Mr Jolly (28 August and 1 September respectively) and copied it to other Delhi Study Group office bearers, demanding answers from the Group:
Dear Vijay Jolly
Recently the Fiji Hgh Court gave a judgment in the case of Mahendra Chaudhry and the $2million he had kept in his Australian bank account without informing the Inland Revenue Department here in Fjii
In his ruling, Justice Goundar observed the following:
The applicant (Mahendra Chaudhry) has annexed to his affidavit a reference dated 12 October 2004 from an institution called Delhi Study Group, which gives some insight of the original source of the funds the applicant received. The reference reads:
“This is to confirm that funds were collected in New Delhi and other parts of India, including NRI's (Non-Resident Indians) to assist Hon'ble Mahendra Pal Chaudhry, Former Prime Minister of Fiji in 2000-2002.
The funds were intended to solely assist Hon'ble Chaudhry and his family members to establish residence in another country following the political upheaval in Fiji in May 2000, in which his life and those of his family members were threatened by terrorist elements in Fiji.
Hon Chaudhry is very popular and is held in high regard by the people of India. It was the wish to the people of India to provide Hon'ble Chaudhry financial and physical security at a time when he was bravely defending the democratic and human rights of his people. The funds collect were sent to Hon'ble Chaudhry through assistance provided by the government of India between 2000 and 2002.”
(1) I would be very grateful if you could kindly let me know when the letter was actually written and who signed the above letter on behalf of DSG?
(2) I know that Mahend was in New Delhi in October 2004 and was seen at a press conference organized by the Delhi Study Group, and you were also present that day
(3) When did Mahend ask for the above letter?
(4) Did he tell the DSG what was the purpose of the letter?
(5) How was the funds transmitted into his Australian bank account?
(6) And what amount was put into his bank account in Australia?
In October 2004 he had provided a very similar letter to Fiji’s tax authorities by someone called Harbhajan Lal from Haryana – see a copy of the letter dated 9 September 2004 (provided by his delegated accountant Nalin Patel)? It’s an English translation from the original which was written in Hindi.
(1) Do you know who is Harbhajan Lal of Haryana?
(2) I wonder if DSG and Harbhajan Lal are talking about the same amounts – nearly $2million?
(3) Was Harbhajan Lal also part of the DSC?
(4) Was the DSG letter in English or Hindi?
Like the mysterious Harbhajan Lal in 2008, Mr Jolly (nor the other DSG’s office bearers) have replied to Victor Lal; an Indo-Fijian acquaintance of Mr Jolly even called him at his Delhi home on our behalf but we were informed that Mr Jolly is no longer answering his home or mobile phones regarding the Delhi Study Group letter.
Three days earlier, on 17 August 2012, Victor Lal had written to Nalin Patel:
You may recall I contacted you regarding Mahendra Chaudhry's tax details. You neither acknowledged nor replied to my set of questions that I had sent you in 2008.
To date, I have not been able to locate Harbhajan Lal in Haryana, and now Justice Goundar's judgment quotes a letter from Delhi Study Group, which was never a part of your exchanges, on behalf Mr Chaudhry, with FIRCA in 2004.
I would be very grateful if you could comment on the attachment, especially with the Prime Minister calling upon accountants to take a more active role in the Constitution making in Fiji.
When did you submit that Harbhajan Lal letter dated 9 September 2004 to FIRCA that year?
Did you have a copy of the Delhi Study Group letter dated 12 October 2004 also but chose to submit the Harbhajan Lal one?
Look forward to hearing from you.
5: We call upon the Director of Public Prosecutions to ask Mr Chaudhry who transferred the money from India – Delhi Study Group based in New Delhi or Harbahajan Lal in Haryana, India?
6: We request the Director of Public Prosecutions to establish whether Mr Chaudhry and Nalin Patel, in presenting to FIRCA the letter from Harbhjan Lal, whose content was materially false [re his enquiring the details of the funds etc] –Chaudhry (and Nalin Patel) committed a criminal offence under Fiji’s tax laws by offering a false document to FIRCA, namely the Harbhajan Lal letter.
7: We request the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate the Suva accountancy firm of G. Lal & Co, Mr Chaudhry’s delegated tax agent to deal with FIRCA in 2004, to establish whether it was aware of the inconsistencies in the Harbhajan Lal-Chaudhry correspondence regarding the $2million, and whether the accountancy firm also had in its possession the Delhi Support Group letter dated 12 October 2004.
8: We request the Director of Public Prosecutions to establish whether Mr Chaudhry and Nalin Patel submitted Harbhajan Lal’s letter knowing its content was false in material respects to prevent FIRCA from pursuing the original source of the funds in Mr Chaudhry’s Australian bank account. We call upon the Director of Public Prosecutions to ask Mr Chaudhry which of the two letters – Harbhajan Lal or Delhi Study Group – is the lie – as they both can’t be genuine. Apart from the false accusations against us in his affidavit, the contents of the Harbhajan Lal letter dated 9 September 2004 does not accord with his bank statements from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia which he offered to FIRCA.
In our humble submission we beg the Director of Prosecutions to call upon the Fiji High Court to waiver the statute of limitation for prima facie there is evidence in the “Harbhajan Lal” letter that Mr Chaudhry obtained a favourable decision from FIRCA (an oversight on the part of FIRCA tax officers) through alleged fraud – the contents of the Harbhajan Lal letter does not square with his Australian bank statements.
Moreover, although we do not have a copy of Mr Chaudhry’s affidavit cited by Jutsice Goundar (despite requests for one from the Director of the Public Prosecutions) we call upon the Director of Public Prosecutions to examine the contents of both the Harbhajan Lal and the Delhi Support Group letters. If there are glaring disparities in the two letters than Mr Chaudhry must be deprived of the statute of limitation for the “fraud”, if any on his part, would be a continuing “fraud” since 2004 when he first offered Harbhajan Lal’s letter and now the Delhi Study Group letter in 2012 to explain away the $2million is his Australian bank account.
from Mr Chaudhry $57,000 in unpaid taxes in 2007
In Victor Lal’s article of 17 February 2008 headlined “India link to Fiji Minister's $2million deposit: Political sympathisers channelled money through Sydney consulate” he had alleged that in 2007 “the Interim Cabinet Minister [Mr Chaudhry] had still owed $57,672.09 in taxes to FIRCA”.
Victor Lal had provided no evidence to support his claim that Mr Chaudhry still owed taxes in 2007. He, however, had evidence on him based on an internal investigation that was carried out against a particular FIRCA staff member who was accused of “leaking” Mr Chaudhry’s tax details to the media.
According to FIRCA sources, whom we would describe as Victor Lal’s highly reliable “Deep Throats”, borrowing the code name of such sources from the “Watergate Scandal”, one of the post-coup appointed FIRCA Board members Arvind Datt, a relative of Mr Chaudhry, had allegedly made “life hell” for certain FIRCA staff members, especially one Mrs Puspha Singh, who was repeatedly suspended for trying to collect Mr Chaudhry’s outstanding tax debt
In their anger and frustration, the Deep Throats referred to Mr Chaudhry as “daaku” – a term we deployed throughout our investigation to refer to him during our search for his secret millions overseas.
One FIRCA source alleged: “His [Mr Chaudhry’s] tax bill overall for all years was about $120,000. He had paid off about half of it by mid last year (2007). I had a copy of his Statement of Tax Account which showed tax and penalties of $57,000. This was the balance that DMU officer Pushps[a] Singh tried to clelct [collect] off him before Arvin sent her home for 'leaking' Daaku's details.”
Who is Puspha?
In August 2007 Puspha Singh was assigned to recover from Mr Chaudhry his outstanding tax debt to FIRCA, contrary to his claim in his affidavit that he had paid his outstanding debt in 2004.
We will let the two documents speak to us:
Notes of Interview – Pushpa Wati Singh
Date: 30 August 2007
Time: 2.35 to 2.50pm
Place: GMDS Office, 5th Floor Dominion House, Suva
Ms Singh was informed at the outset that this was not a caution interview, and was invited to make a statement. This follows.
Ms Singh received a suspension latter (tabled) with the date “19/07”. This is incorrect as it should have been “7th August 2007”.
Ms Singh was called to the A/CEO’s office and asked by A/CEO if she had given any information regarding Mr Mahendra Chaudry’s tax file to the newspapers. A record from the IT section showed that she had been the last person to print the STA. Ms Singh agrees that she printed the STA.
Ms Singh was allocated the Mahendra Chaudry case as a new case by the system. She then received a letter from HR section on 17 July that she was to commence in Small/Medium on 19 July 2007. Ms Singh reallocated all her cases to one of her team members Ms Anshu Chand. Other cases allocated were Max Marketing and Fiji Hardwood.
Mr Chaudry’s tax debt was about $57,000, due on 9 August 2007 (Our emphasis in red). The STA and the amounts stated in the newspaper did not tie up.
As there was no DMU file on Mr Chaudry so they had to work off the STA. Ms Singh printed the STA and gave it to Ms Chand for action. Ms Singh had a second meeting with the A/CEO where she once again was accused of leaking information and again denied the allegation. Ms Singh was subsequently emailed by the manager DMU Mr Moala Nata and asked to put in writing her answer to the same allegation that A/CEO had made.
Ms Singh asked why she was targeted with this allegation and not Ms Chand who had been given the STA. Ms Singh suggested that I check the DMU file on Mr Chaudry to see if the debt has been actioned.
The statement ended. I then asked Ms Singh some questions.
Q: Did you release any confidential information regarding Mahendra Chaudry to anyone outside FIRCA?
Q: Did your husband Mahen Singh release any information about Mr Chaudry to anyone outside FIRCA?
A: No, we never discuss work matters.
Q: Who else apart from Ms Chand was in your DMU team at the time of these events?
A: Only Jone Vula.
Ms Singh suggested that in future investigations should be done before suspension letters are sent. The last 3 weeks had been very traumatic for her and her husband.
I concluded the interview and informed Ms Singh that we would be in touch shortly.
………………………. 4.10pm 30/08/07
Memo To: GMDS Mr Achary
Re: Investigation – Pushpa Singh and Mahendar Singh
Date: 7 September 2007
1. The investigation of the abovenamed staff for leaking of confidential information is ongoing and almost complete. We are waiting from a reply from the Military for us to inspect documents they seized from the Daily Post which provided the information published.
2. So far no evidence has been found that Pushpa or Mahendar Singh leaked confidential information or otherwise breached the Code of Conduct or any laws.
3. If the officers are returned from suspension to the workplace this will not compromise the finalisation of the investigation.
On 30 August 2012 Victor Lal wrote to Mr Chaudhry, “Tax arrears of $57,000 in 2007” but to date there has been no reply from him:Dear Mr Chaudhry
Greetings. I am writing to inquire from you if you owed $57,000 to FIRCA in outstanding tax debt in August 2007? If so, when did you settle the debt? Did you settle it during the tax amnesty period?
Documents on me reveal that in August 2007 FIRCA was still pursuing you for the sum of $57,000 and one Puspha Singh was repeatedly suspended by the FIRCA Board Member Arvind Datt who had wrongly accused her of "leaking" your tax details to the media.
I look forward to hearing from you.
As we can see from the above two documents, Ms Puspha Singh was cleared of any wrong-doing, and was definitely not one of Victor Lal’s many “Deep Throats” inside FIRCA.
The investigation, however, reveals that in August 2007 Mr Chaudhry still allegedly owed FIRCA $57,000, due to be paid by 9 August 2007.
If he cleared all his taxes in 2004 then for what years was FIRCA pursuing him to pay up the outstanding tax debt? Why was Ms Puspha Singh tasked to recover from him the outstanding debt of the same sum, and from what year [years]?
Most importantly, we call upon the Director of Public Prosecutions to establish if, and when, Mr Chaudhry settled the outstanding tax debt of $57,000.
2: Request for criminal investigation to ascertain whether Mr Chaudhry abused office as Finance Minister and line-manager of FIRCA by benefitting from the Tax Amnesty in 2007
If the above outstanding sum is true, which we have no doubt that it is, then we would like to invite the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate whether Mr Chaudhry might have abused his position as Minister of Finance, National Planning and Sugar Industry, and inter-alia as line manager of FIRCA, when he persuaded the Interim Cabinet of Commodore Bainimarama to endorse his tax amnesty plan – grace period for taxpayers.
We would like to invite the Director of Public Prosecutions to also investigative whether Mr Chaudhry committed a second offence of perjury in his affidavit by claiming that he had cleared all his taxes by 2004 when we have evidence that in 2007 he still owed $57,000 which Ms Puspha Singh was trying to recover from him.
FIRCA writes to Mr Chaudhry granting him extension till 15 August 2004 to provide information in relation to investments held overseas
Nalin Patel of G. Lal & Co writes on behalf of Mr Chaudhry to FIRCA asking for an extension till 15 September. Informs FIRCA that Mr Chaudhry has appointed him as his tax agent and confirms that the information was being completed
FIRCA grants extension
Nalin and Pardeep Patel of G. Lal & Co meet FIRCA’s Madhu Sudhan (now working for G Lal & Co) and state that information would be submitted by 15 September 2004
Harbhajan Lal of Haryana or someone purporting to be him writes his letter to Mr Chaudhry regarding the funds collected in India
Nalin Patel writes to FIRCA asking for further extension of time until 15 October 2004
FIRCA writes to inform no further extension will be granted after 15 October
FIRCA officials meet with Nalin Patel in Madhu Sudhan’s office to discuss Harbhajan Lal’s letter; seek more substantive evidence to support the letter (see 5 October “Note” for full details)
FIRCA writes to Nalin Patel regarding the evidence he had on hand at the 5 October meeting
Agree to amend the income tax returns
Refuse to allow tax credits due to lack of documentary evidence
FIRCA still to pursue the source of funds