8 May 2019

Corruption conviction for Tahiti mayor and assembly member

10:11 am on 8 May 2019

The criminal court in French Polynesia has given the mayor of Papara, Putai Taae, a suspended 18-month jail sentence over the abuse of funds allocated to a town association.

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Photo: 123RF

Putai Taae also lost his assembly seat for the ruling Tapura Huiraatira party and is banned from holding public office for two years with immediate effect.

He was also fined $US20,000 as was one of his advisers, Charles Villierme, who now also loses his job as vice-president of French Polynesia's Olympic Committee.

Tho four people convicted, including the mayor's wife, were found to have spent the funds to travel to the US purportedly to set up a sister city relationship with San Diego, yet they failed to produce any records of their endeavours.

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.