19 Jan 2011

Tahiti court to sentence Vernaudon over OPT affair

7:17 am on 19 January 2011

The criminal court in French Polynesia is today due to give its verdict in the abuse of funds at the state-owned telecommunications company, OPT.

The prosecution has requested that the veteran politician Emile Vernaudon be given a five-year jail term for embezzlement.

Walter Zweifel reports.

"As former government minister and chairman of the OPT board, Emile Vernaudon was found to have overseen the misspending of 1.4 million US dollars between 2004 and 2006. A probe established massive abuse - among other things that he claimed reimbursement for restaurant meals while he was in hospital. In 2007, Emile Vernaudon was in prison for four months as part of the OPT investigation and made history in early 2008 when he became the first jailed person under French jurisdiction to be elected mayor. He lost the Mahina mayoralty because of a corruption conviction but yesterday he launched his campaign to regain the mayor's job which he first held in 1977."