27 Oct 2008

Former French Polynesia president denies plundering public purse

10:42 am on 27 October 2008

The former French Polynesian president, Gaston Flosse, has defended the

use of public funds during the period he was in power as he and several

other politicians try to avoid an order to reimburse three million US


A probe by the French accounts office has identified and confirmed a set

of expenses which it says matched no real activity linked to the running

of his government in the years 1996 to 2004.

It says it found a hidden way of accounting which allowed for the illicit

withdrawal of public funds and which it described as a system designed to


Last week, Mr Flosse failed to have the case dismissed by the French

supreme court whose decision means the matter is to be referred to the

French Polynesian assembly for debate.

He has now also written to all assembly members, affirming that he did no

wrong, and he has just appeared before the assembly's finance committee

which however has rejected his explanations.

One assembly member, Hiro Tefaarere, has dismissed Mr Flosse's appeal and

called it surreal, ironic and pathetic.