Tahiti politicians to repay for phantom job outlays

10:26 am on 23 September 2016

The French Court of Audit has ordered 20 people, including the former president Gaston Flosse, to reimburse the French Polynesian public purse a total of $US2.2 million.

The group was found guilty of misspending public funds as part of a vast network of phantom jobs to support his Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party for eight years from 1996.

Edouard Fritch and Gaston Flosse in 2013

Edouard Fritch and Gaston Flosse in 2013 Photo: RNZI Walter Zweifel

Flosse had arranged contracts for top politicians, former and current mayors, unionists, journalists and sports administrators to advocate for his party.

Those sentenced to repay the money include the current president Edouard Fritch, the veteran mayor of Papeete Michel Buillard and other current and former senior politicians.

The court has also ordered Flosse to pay a $US100,000 fine.

The group can appeal against the latest court decision.

The case, which was the biggest case of its kind in French legal history, led to Flosse being forced to resign from office two years ago after he failed to persuade the French president to waive his four-year suspended jail sentence.

At the time Flosse said he never abused public funds, adding that all contracts at the centre of the court case were approved by successive French high commissioners.

His lawyer said one didn't have to be a Nobel prize winner in nuclear physics to understand that this was a political process.

In February, Flosse was given a suspended 18-month jail sentence for misusing $US10 million of public funds for running a spy agency out of the presidency's office.

The offices of the Tahoeraa Huiraatira party in French Polynesia

The offices of the Tahoeraa Huiraatira party in French Polynesia Photo: RNZI / Walter Zweifel