4 Jan 2010

French Polynesia's import duty challenge goes to court

5:05 pm on 4 January 2010

The owner of French Polynesia's only Rolls Royce, Rene Hoffer, says next week's court case may determine whether the territorial government's budget will falter as it relies on levying import duties in the absence of an income tax.

Mr Hoffer, who was one of three men claiming to be president during Tahiti's political turmoil in late 2004, says the court is to rule whether the customs officers acted outside the law when they seized the vehicle last month.

He says last March the court ruled in his favour when he defended the 2008 move to import the car without paying duty.

Mr Hoffer says so far customs officials have only demanded verbally that he pay the duty and never given him a bill in writing, which he says he would challenge in court.

"Why didn't they react quicker, why didn't they win the court case when they sued me in March?"

Rene Hoffer says if the customs officials have to release his Rolls Royce, the levying of import duties would no longer be enforceable and the budget would unravel.