15 Sep 2009

Released from detention, Tong Sang clarifies French Polynesia property deals

2:27 pm on 15 September 2009

A former French Polynesian president, Gaston Tong Sang, says a French advertising executive jailed in Tahiti as part of a fraud probe had no links to the property dealings of another former president, Gaston Flosse.

Mr Tong Sang made the disclosure at a news conference after he had been in custody for 30 hours late last week to be interrogated about Mr Flosse's Huahine property.

Mr Tong Sang says Mr Flosse had failed to repay a bank loan taken out in Vanuatu, prompting a group of citizens and party sympathisers, including Mr Tong Sang's partner, to help by forming a property company.

He says the French executive, Hubert Haddad, wanted to join the company but in the end didn't do it.

This comes as the French senate is about to meet to discuss lifting Mr Flosse's parliamentary immunity amid a deepening corruption probe linked to the affairs of Tahiti's publicly-owned OPT telecommunications company.

In response to the flurry of searches and detentions, Mr Tong Sang said it was a call for the political class to change its behaviour and change the system.