French Polynesian mayor, wife, and others, face charges

3:47 pm on 3 May 2019

The criminal court in French Polynesia has tried the mayor of Papara, his wife and five others over the allocation of funds to a town association.

Putai Taae, who is also an assembly member of the ruling Tapura Huiraatira party, is accused of abusing confidence.

The prosecutor has demanded he be given a suspended 18-month jail sentence, fined $US20,000 and be ineligible to hold public office for two years.

The court heard that the association, of which Mr Taae was the honorary president, was the only one to secure public funds destined for local events.

It also heard that the accused travelled to the US purportedly to set up a sister city relationship with San Diego yet the accused failed to produce any records.

A ruling is expected next week and if found guilty, Mr Taae will lose his positions with immediate effect.

According to Transparency International, the incidence of corruption in French Polynesia is seven times higher than in New Caledonia and 25 times higher than in the Paris area.

Both the president Edouard Fritch, the president of the territory's assembly Gaston Tong Sang as well as several assembly members have corruption convictions.

Mr Fritch's predecessor Gaston Flosse was forced to quit the presidency because of a corruption conviction.

Both politicians still face a corruption charge as former and current mayors of Pirae, with a court appearance expected next month.