4 Nov 2015

Former New Caledonia president in court

12:58 pm on 4 November 2015
Harold Martin

Harold Martin Photo: AFP

New Caledonia's former president, Harold Martin, has been in court over alleged irregularities in the awarding of contracts.

The case relates to contracts worth millions of dollars which were allocated when Mr Martin was the board chairman of the publicly owned OPT telecommunications company.

He was charged four years ago with alleged favouritism after it transpired that he defied other board members to give a 29 million US dollar contract to an associate, Jean-Marc Bruel, whose wife worked with Mr Martin in the presidency.

The company, Societe Generale, had been the preferred bidder and is a civil party in the case.

The court has heard that the two men frequently called each other, including eight times on the day the contract was awarded to Mr Bruel's company.

Mr Bruel says life if full of coincidences.

Before the case went to court, Mr Martin told a local newspaper that the charges follow inadmissible police methods.

If convicted, the suspects could be jailed for up to five years.