16 May 2008

Police search home of New Caledonia southern province president

12:04 pm on 16 May 2008

Police in New Caledonia have searched the home of the president of the southern province, Philippe Gomes, as part of an investigation into the affairs of a company he used to own.

Local press reports say the search also involved his office and that of the province's vice president, Philippe Michel.

According to the reports, the probe was triggered by a bank transaction that led to suspicion that public work contracts were unduly awarded to Mr Gomes' company.

The company was sold to a French firm last year.

Mr Gomes' lawyer says a complaint was lodged in 2006 alleging corruption in his client's dealings with the Goro Nickel company.

He says the action taken against him is politically motivated and relates to his criticism of the way the political right has been reconciled.