9 May 2011

Ruling expected next month after OPT fraud appeal in French Polynesia

6:40 am on 9 May 2011

A ruling is expected in late June after French Polynesia's appeal court heard the case of five people convicted for the misspending of 1.4 million US dollars of funds at the state-owned OPT telecommunications company.

A former government minister, Emile Vernaudon, has been serving a five-year prison sentence since January, but in the Court of Appeal, he has blamed staff for his predicament.

Vernaudon also told the court that he acted in a way that was common at the time and it all happened with the approval of the French state.

An investigation had found, among other things, that he claimed reimbursement for restaurant meals while he was in hospital, and that he billed the OPT for car fuel, pretending he had driven his vehicle 125,000 kilometres in one year.

The prosecution has called for the sentences to be upheld.