15 Feb 2013

French Polynesia minister detained amid corruption probe

10:56 am on 15 February 2013

Investigators in French Polynesia have detained a government minister, James Salmon, in connection with a major and long-running corruption probe.

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

Media reports say Mr Salmon's detention came as one of his advisors Jean Chin Foo has been jailed as part of the probe.

Mr Chin Foo is alleged to have received large sums from Mr Ravel and passed some of them to the minister.

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.