26 Aug 2009

New bank search in French Polynesia's OPT corruption probe

10:56 am on 26 August 2009

Investigators in French Polynesia have again searched the Papeete building of the Socredo Bank after a series of searches last week in the long-running corruption probe into the affairs of the state-owned OPT telecommunications company.

The latest search has come after judges made a fresh bid for the lifting of the parliamentary immunity of the veteran politician, Gaston Flosse, who is suspected of being central in the affair.

Five people have been in prison for weeks as part of the investigation.

Among them are the former OPT head, Geffry Salmon, and a French advertising executive, Hubert Haddad.

Mr Haddad's lawyer has launched a fresh bid for his release from the Tahiti prison, claiming his client should not have been jailed because he has a diplomatic passport from Burkina Faso.

The businessman is alleged to have given Mr Flosse kickbacks worth two million US dollars over more than a decade for public sector contacts.