21 Aug 2009

Airline searched as French Polynesia's OPT probe accelerates

2:55 pm on 21 August 2009

Investigators in French Polynesia have accelerated searches as part of an investigation into alleged corruption and abuse of public funds in the running of the state-owned OPT telecommunications company.

Tahitipresse reports that the investigators have entered the premises of Air Tahiti Nui after a second search this morning of the Socredo Bank in Papeete.

Two bank officials were detained as part of the probe.

One of them is being described as an associate of the former OPT head, Geffry Salmon, who was this week taken to the bank from the Tahiti jail where he has been held for several month as part of the probe.

Newspaper reports say Mr Salmon, who has also been at the helm of Air Tahiti Nui, has had substantial wealth in his bank safe.

A month ago, the territory's veteran politician, Gaston Flosse, was questioned by police in France over the OPT affair.

Mr Flosse is alleged to have received kickbacks of about two million US dollars from a French advertising executive for granting public sector contracts during his time as President of French Polynesia.