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French Polynesia leader questioned in graft probe

Last Updated: Saturday, September 19, 2009 - 13:27

Papeete: Veteran French Polynesia leader Gaston Flosse, an ally of former president Jacques Chirac, was questioned in a graft probe in Tahiti as police searched his home and party headquarters.
The 78-year-old French Senator, who served four terms as head of the French Pacific territory between 1984 and 2008, was questioned in July by financial investigators in Paris over the alleged embezzlement of some EUR 1.5 million (USD 2.2 million) from the Polynesian post and telecoms office.

A member of President Nicolas Sarkozy`s right-wing majority, Flosse could be held for questioning for up to 36 hours.

Police also searched his home and the headquarters of his Tahoera`a Huiraatira party.

The French Senate has partially lifted Flosse`s immunity, allowing him to be questioned, but refused a request by an investigating magistrate earlier this week for Flosse to be taken into custody, noting he had yet to be formally placed under investigation.

Prosecutors subsequently said they would begin an official inquiry

The probe was launched after a damning report by Polynesia`s public finance watchdog, the CTC, on the use of state funds and award of contracts during Flosse`s rule.

Four people are being held in custody while investigators probe the alleged embezzlement of funds for the production of a phonebook for the French overseas territory.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, September 19, 2009 - 13:27

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