16 May 2019

People close to New Caledonian political party questioned in probe

1:21 pm on 16 May 2019

Investigators in New Caledonia have questioned several people close to the leader of the Caledonia Together party, Philippe Gomes, as part of a probe into alleged phantom jobs.

Philippe Gomes

Philippe Gomes Photo: AFP

About 20 people are alleged to be involved in the alleged scam, including the secretary general of the provincial government and head of the power company Enercal, Roger Kerjouan.

They are alleged to have been working for the party during the 2017 French legislative elections while being employed by the provincial government.

None of the people being questioned this week were detained and no charges have been laid.

In March, the president of southern province Philippe Michel was among five people detained for questioning after the offices of the Caledonia Together party were searched late last year.

Last month, Caledonia Together denounced the investigation and accused the rival anti-independence Future with Confidence coalition of orchestrating it by lodging a defamatory complaint.

However, it hit back, saying it was unworthy of a provincial president to suggest the French judicial system could be used as a tool.

In last Sunday's election, Caledonia Together lost more than half of its seats in Congress, and in the southern province the rival Future with Confidence coalition secured half of the assembly's seats.

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