13 Jan 2015

New Caledonia court hears Wallis fraud appeal

5:53 pm on 13 January 2015

The appeal court in New Caledonia is this week hearing the case of ten people convicted of fraud in Wallis and Futuna last year.

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Photo: AFP

A total of 16 people were found guilty in August of defrauding the French government of millions of US dollars in what is being described as the worst ever abuse of the relevant French investment law.

They had been found to present inflated bills and abuse the tax benefits aimed at boosting investment in French overseas territories in 2007 and 2008.

A former New Caledonia-based police officer, Marc Revault, was given a five year jail sentence, a 670,000 US dollar fine and had his possessions confiscated.

His partner, Jean-Marc Etchebarre, was given the same sentence.

Among those convicted is the former secretary of the territorial assembly, Setefano Tafono.

Several business leaders in Wallis and Futuna were also implicated in the scams that amounted to more than 27 million US dollars.

The trial followed a probe which was called after the number of companies involved in public works inexplicably multiplied and purported investments in hotels were found to be non-existent.

The appeal court hearing is expected to last three days.

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