21 Mar 2019

New Caledonia's Martin fails in Paris appeal

4:25 pm on 21 March 2019

France's highest court has upheld the corruption conviction of a former president of New Caledonia Harold Martin.

Harold Martin

Harold Martin Photo: AFP

Two years ago, he had been given a six-month suspended prison sentence over the allocation of a US$29 million contract to an associate, Jean-Marc Bruel.

The Paris court also overturned his earlier acquittal on a charge of favouritism and ordered that the case be returned to New Caledonia's court of appeal.

The case stems from a 2010 deal when Martin was the board chairman of the publicly owned OPT telecommunications company.

Martin, who was a Congress member and a mayor at the time, had defied the board to seal the contract with his associate.

Two months ago, he resigned as mayor of Paita but said he would serve out his term in the Congress.

He said he acted because an appeal court ruling against him could annul the budget of Paita.

When the OPT case first went to court, the prosecutor labelled the wrongdoing extremely serious, adding that it was similar to a banana republic where deals are struck behind the public's back.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs