24 Jun 2011

French Polynesia appeal court upholds Vernaudon's prison sentence

12:27 pm on 24 June 2011

French Polynesia's appeal court has upheld the five-year prison sentence given to a former government minister, Emile Vernaudon, over the misspending of 1.4 million US dollars of funds at the state-owned OPT telecommunications company.

The verdict came after last month's hearing in which Vernaudon blamed staff for his predicament, saying he acted in a way that was common at the time and it all happened with the approval of the French state.

Other top company officials and two other former ministers had their suspended jail sentences and fines confirmed.

However, the court acquitted an assembly member, Hiro Tefaarere, and a former minister, Georges Puchon.

The case was launched after an investigation had found, among other things, that Vernaudon had 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.