1 Nov 2010

French Polynesia car import test case to go to Paris

4:09 pm on 1 November 2010

The French Polynesian case over the legality of the French customs department office levying import duties in Tahiti is to go to the highest court in France.

Last week, the appeal court threw out some charges but upheld that Tahiti businessman, Rene Hoffer, broke regulations by importing a Rolls Royce car without paying duty and then using a California licence plate.

However, the court dropped the contempt of court charges laid in June when Rene Hoffer challenged the confiscation of the car.

He was convicted and instantly jailed for a year, but two months later he was released, with the judiciary now conceding the jailing was baseless.

Rene Hoffer, who in the political turmoil of 2004 laid claim to be the legitimate president, is now taking the matter to Paris, also in a bid to get the constitutional court to rule on the substantive matter of the import levy.

He maintains that three court cases already confirmed that the importation of the car was legal, despite continued verbal demands by the customs that he pay import duty.

He says to date, the Tahiti courts have refused to have the matter tested in Paris, with Mr Hoffer saying that a ruling in his favour could undo a tax system based on import levies.