Former French Polynesia president Gaston Flosse. 23010917
France’s highest court has revived French Polynesia’s largest corruption case, which had been closed almost more than three years ago.
people, including former president Gaston Flosse, were given jail sentences by
Tahiti’s criminal court in 2013 for their roles in a kickback scheme to secure
public sector contracts from the OPT telecommunications company.
appeal in 2015, the case thrown out over a technicality and in 2019, judicial
authorities in Tahiti had dismissed efforts to revisit the matter, saying the
statute of limitations applied in the affair.
the court in Paris now annulled their decision, saying they misunderstood the
alleged misuse of public funds centred on French businessman Hubert Haddad
paying $US2 million in kickbacks over 12 years to Flosse and his party to get
the OPT contracts.
the investigations and trial, it was established that Flosse's secretary Melba
Ortas used to collect the money as regular cash payments from Haddad's local
company, and Flosse admitted disbursing the money for private expenses.
investigations were underway in 2009, Flosse was jailed for three weeks.
who had been arrested in France, was also imprisoned for three months in Tahiti
as part of the investigations, but on paying a $US800,000 bail, he secured his
former head of the OPT and Air Tahiti Nui Geffry Salmon spent six months in
preventive detention until he was freed on $US120,000 bail.
their trial in 2013, Flosse and Haddad were given five-year prison sentences
and fined $US110,000, but they appealed.
lawyers failed however in their bid to get France's highest court to move the
appeal case away from Tahiti after claiming they wouldn't get a fair trial.
criminal court also ordered that the OPT be reimbursed $US5.6 million.
months after the verdict, Flosse was elected president and within months, the
lawyer acting for the OPT James Lau was dismissed.
noted that those convicted had taken over key aspects of the impending appeal
trial, likening the case to a mafia-style affair with mafia-like behaviour.
the appeal court in 2015, the case was thrown out because of procedural errors
by the prosecution.
by the prosecution to revisit the case were quashed in 2019 when the case was
lawyer acting for Flosse, Francois Quinquis, said the latest decision in Paris
to allow the affair to be retested is no surprise as the court tried to save
told Tahiti-infos he wished the prosecution good luck as the decisions reached
so far had made the affair inextricable.
lawyer said the case would end once there were no protagonists left.