OUTGOING Member of Parliament for Gao/Bugotu, Samuel Manetoali on Tuesday denied diverting $100,000 of constituency fund for his own use.
Manetoali pleaded not guilty to the 17 charges of conversion against him before Principal Magistrate Fatima Taeburi.
The defence lawyer, Evans Olofia, thereafter put the court on notice of their intention to apply for leave at the High Court.
The defence is intending to file the application to the High Court for orders declaring that the charges were not genuinely laid against the MP.
The caretaker Minister for Forestry and Research was initially charged with one count of conversion.
Prosecution later increased one count to 17 counts to outline the different dates and time which he allegedly used the money.
Having noted the not guilty pleas, Taeburi adjourned the matter to February 19, for an oral pre-trial conference.
Taeburi ordered the pre-trial conference document to be filed on February 18.
Manetoali was accused of diverting $100,000 of constituency funds to pay for a Christmas party he hosted in 2014 at his Lengakiki residence.
The fund allegedly used was an advanced government grant paid to each of the 50 constituency in mid December, 2014.
Manetoali is engaging the L & L Lawyers to represent him in court while appearing for the Crown yesterday is John Wesley Zoze.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN