7 Jan 2013

Tahiti corruption suspects in public spat

2:34 pm on 7 January 2013

There has been a public spat between the two main suspects in a high-profile French Polynesian corruption case.

Shortly after release from jail, a leading New Caledonian businessman, Bill Ravel, claimed he had been blackmailed by the secretary general of the confederation of independent unions, Cyril Legayic.

This relates to allegations that Mr Ravel paid him 160,000 US dollars in cash over four years to contain strikes at his companies in Papeete.

In comments to local newspapers, Mr Legayic's lawyer has rejected Mr Ravel's account, saying his client never approached the businessman.

Mr Legayic has entered a third month in Tahiti's Nuutania jail.

Last month, the owner of a leading supermarket, Louis Wane, was also charged with corruption.

He is accused of having paid Mr Legayic money for similar reasons although Mr Legayic has reportedly claimed that the money was a loan.