Kautai corruption trial begins in French Polynesia

7:44 pm on 22 August 2018

The criminal court in French Polynesia has begun the trial of a government assembly member accused of abuse of public funds and fraud.

The prosecution wants Benoît Kautai to be given a two-year suspended prison sentence, a $US50,000 fine and be declared ineligible to hold office for two years.

Benoît Kautai.

Benoît Kautai. Photo: Tahoeraa Huiraatira

Mr Kautai, who is also the mayor of Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands, is alleged to have overcharged the territorial government for a roading project six years ago.

At the time, he was with the pro-independence Union For Democracy, but in May he was elected as an assembly member of the ruling Tapura Huiraatira Party.

He is the first assembly member in this term to be taken to court for alleged corruption.

A verdict is expected on September 4.

Almost a third of the ruling party's elected members have corruption convictions, including its leader Edouard Fritch and the assembly president Gaston Tong Sang who was given a suspended prison sentence this year.