Health secretary Humza Yousaf told a jury he loaned Natalie McGarry money to stop her being evicted.
The Broughty Ferry-based MSP stated a “distressed” McGarry came to his office in Glasgow city centre in February 2014.
He claimed he was told by McGarry she did “not have the money” and was threatened with losing her property that day.
Mr Yousaf said he gave McGarry £600, which was later paid back.
Fife-born McGarry, 40, who represented Glasgow East at Westminster for the SNP, is on trial accused of stealing more than £25,000 from two organisations advocating for Scottish independence between April 2013 and August 2015.
According to one charge, some of the money was supposed to have been donated to Perth and Kinross Foodbank.
Loaned money to accused
Mr Yousaf told jurors at Glasgow Sheriff Court McGarry arrived at his West Nile Street constituency office “in a state of distress”.
“I asked her what was wrong and she told me she was threatened with being evicted that day if she didn’t come up with around the sum of £600 and she didn’t have the money at that point.
“There was a reason I can’t remember in much detail.
“There was a reason her and her partner didn’t have access to the funds.
“I offered to give her a loan of funds, about the £600 mark, from the bank across the road.
“I made the transaction and the money was returned roughly in the timescale.”
He said there was no discussion of where the money would come from to pay him back.
A bank statement showed it was paid back to Mr Yousaf in April 2014.
Allan Macleod, defending, put it to Mr Yousaf McGarry had not gone directly to him for cash but that he overheard a telephone call between the accused and office manager Shona McAlpine, then a later conversation between the two at his office.
Mr Yousaf agreed and stated he then had a conversation with McGarry in which he discussed loaning the money.
He was also asked by Mr Macleod if it was fair to say that McGarry was “disorganised” and “overdramatic.”
Mr Yousaf replied: “Yes.”
Denies the charges
McGarry allegedly embezzled £21,000 while treasurer for Women for Independence between April 26 2013 and November 30 2015.
A second charge states McGarry took £4,661 between April 9, 2014 and August 10, 2015 when she was treasurer, secretary and convener of Glasgow Regional Association (GRA) of the SNP.
McGarry – of Clarkston, East Renfrewshire – denies the two charges.
The trial continues before Sheriff Tom Hughes.