French national denied travel

Friday 27 November 2020 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Local, National

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French national denied travel
Rarotonga International Airport. (PHOTO: CI News)

An hour before a repatriation flight to Tahiti was due to depart, the High Court denied bail to a French national after he failed to pay a bond of $60,000.

A 73-year-old French national charged with fraud was unable to board a repatriation flight to Tahiti yesterday after being denied bail by the Cook Islands High Court.

French national, Yves Tchen Pan, who also holds a Cook Islands permanent resident visa, faces a charge of obtaining by false pretense, the alleged amount of about $60,000.

Pan was one of the four French nationals who were to board the repatriation flight serviced by French navy aircraft CN235. It was organised through successful discussions between the foreign ministries of France and Cook Islands, as well as the Office of the French Polynesia President Edouard Fritch.

However, an hour before the departure, the High Court denied bail to Pan after he failed to pay a bond of $60,000. He was ordered to surrender his passport to the Ministry of Justice.

Defence lawyer Reuben Tylor also asked for interim name suppression on the grounds his client is a prominent businessman and his reputation could be damaged. The name suppression request was denied by JP Whitta.

While making the bail application, Tylor said his client has a substantial business in the Cook Islands and travels to the country every year, spending a minimum of four months per year. He added his client had no criminal record and had no idea about the nature of the charge.

Tylor also said Pan was to check in for the repatriation flight early yesterday after having been in the Cook Islands for nine months.

He assured the High Court that his client would return to the Cook Islands but couldn’t provide a specific date due to Covid-19.

Senior police prosecutor senior sergeant Fairoa Tararo did not object to the bail, provided the bail bond of $60,000 is paid before travel.

Tararo requested the defendant surrender his passport.

He said the defendant had also promised payments to local pearl farmers adding they were concerned about the uncertainty of his return.

Defence lawyer Tylor replied the farmers have been paid in  full adding this was irrelevant to the charge.

He also said the charge was not one of public safety and the nature of the case was a civil matter. Tylor added his client was not a flight risk.

He also maintained when police would make discovery into the case, the charges would be withdrawn.

JP Whitta said he was uncomfortable with the amount of money the defendant is accused to have defrauded. He said $60,000 was a huge amount of money.

In his ruling, JP John Whitta said in negotiation, a surety of $10,000 was offered by the defence but was rejected by police “therefore the application of bail to travel in the absence of a bond was denied”.

Pan was ordered to surrender his passport to the Ministry of Justice and also ordered not to make any contact with the complainant.

The case is adjourned to December 10.