27 Jul 2009

Investigators in French Polynesia into OPT affair search home of Edouard Fritch

10:48 am on 27 July 2009

Investigators in French Polynesia have searched the home of a senior politician, Edouard Fritch, in connection with a fraud probe into the so-called OPT affair.

They seized a computer hard drive during the two-hour search while at the same time in Paris police formally interrogated his father-in-law, Gaston Flosse, over allegations that he received kickbacks of more than two million US dollars.

Mr Fritch, who was a long-time vice-president under Mr Flosse and held the assembly presidency until earlier this year, also had a top role at the OPT.

Other OPT leaders are also suspected of being part of the scam, which was alleged to have been funded by a French advertising executive, Hubert Haddad, who has been held in jail since May.

Among those in prison is also Mr Flosse's personal secretary.

Mr Flosse planned to fly back to Tahiti after the Senate bureau partly removed his parliamentary immunity last week.

He cannot be detained unless a fresh request made by a judge is authorised by the Senate.