22 Apr 2010

French Polynesia atoll value to be reassessed

1:30 pm on 22 April 2010

The value of an uninhabited French Polynesian atoll at the center of a significant fraud probe is to be reassessed.

Anuanuraro atoll was bought in 2002 by the French Polynesian government from the territory's leading black pearl farmer for allegedly five times its value.

The judicial authorities have approved a bid by the lawyer of the veteran politician, Gaston Flosse, to have the value reassessed.

Implicated in the case is also the president, Gaston Tong Sang, who was the lands minister at the time.

His deputy, Edouard Fritch, who was Mr Flosse's deputy when the deal was sealed, has also been investigated.

Mr Tong Sang has denied any wrongdoing and he has said he acted on Mr Flosse's instructions.

Mr Flosse has said that it was the then finance minister, Georges Puchon, who approved the purchase.