Vila Times

French Polynesia’s president charged with abuse of public funds

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French Polynesia’s president Edouard Fritch is to be tried in the criminal court in Papeete for alleged abuse of public funds.

He will be standing trial with his predecessor Gaston Flosse at a date yet to be set for their actions as former and current mayor of the town of Pirae, reports RNZI. They are alleged to have arranged for the town administration to pay for the water supply to the upmarket Erima neighbourhood, where Flosse lived.

The charges followed a 2011 auditor’s report which found that Flosse set up the free supply while Fritch then continued with it, with both billing the town. Two more prominent residents had also been charged for hooking up to the illicit water supply scheme.

The court action comes just five months before French Polynesia’s territorial election which both politicians want to contest. Should Flosse be convicted again, he would be barred from office because of a previous corruption conviction. Fritch has been convicted in a corruption case this term but another conviction won’t automatically entail a ban from holding office.