03 October 2016

French Polynesia President guilty of malfeasance on eve of first U.N. presentation seeking to justify colonial status of territory


Edouard Fritch in debriefing with Fran├žois Diebolt of the Embassy of France in New York before the opening of the commission
 Edouard Fritch (r) in debriefing with Fran├žois Diebolt of the Embassy of France in New York before the opening of the (U.N.) commission (Special Political and Decolonization Committee)
Picture by Tahiti Infos.

____________________________________________


RNZI/PACNEWS







 French Polynesia's president, Edouard Fritch, has accepted a French Audit Court ruling and will pay $US65,000 to the public purse.


He was one of 20 people ordered to jointly repay $US2.2 million spent on a vast network of phantom jobs to support the Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party over eight years from 1996.


The bulk of the funds is to be reimbursed by the former president Gaston Flosse, but his lawyer said he might appeal after describing the verdict a political one. 

Flosse, who is banned from office because of a criminal conviction in the case, said he never abused public funds. 

Fritch, who succeeded Flosse as head of the territorial government two years ago, has since formed his own party. 

Earlier this year, Fritch was fined $US19,000 after the criminal court found him guilty of exerting undue influence for authorising payments in 2007 to a radio station that then advocated the policies of the Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party. 

Meanwhile, reports from Tahiti say the president of French Polynesia's assembly Marcel Tuihani has been detained for questioning. 

He was held for seven hours as part of an ongoing investigation by the Public Security Directorate into alleged abuse of public funds which had been launched in February. 

The probe centres on the hiring of four staff of the assembly's secretariat whose combined annual salaries exceed $US360,000.
The four in question are close to the Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party of Gaston Flosse and the investigation is to establish whether they work for the secretariat or the party only. 

Tuihani, who is also a Tahoeraa politician, said he is very happy with their work. 

Investigators searched his office in March and seized many documents.