14 Feb 2013

Tahiti's Ravel affair engulfs senior government officials

11:54 am on 14 February 2013

Investigators in French Polynesia have questioned two senior government officials in connection with a major and long-running corruption probe.

The affair centres on payments by a leading New Caledonian businessman, Bill Ravel, who was held for weeks, amid efforts to ascertain who received money from him.

The two officials, Etienne Chimin et Jean Chin Foo, were detained to be asked about reported donations.

The case initially focused on allegations that Mr Ravel paid the secretary general of the confederation of independent unions, Cyril Legayic, 160,000 US dollars in cash over four years to contain strikes at his companies in Papeete.

A month ago, a politician, Jean-Christophe Bouissou, was charged with passive corruption over his links with Mr Ravel.

In November, the president Oscar Temaru said in reference to the probe that he had absolutely no role, adding he never accepted a single franc to change his politics.