23 Jan 2013

French Polynesia's Tong Sang fails to slip atoll sale fraud charges

7:55 pm on 23 January 2013

A leading French Polynesian politician, Gaston Tong Sang, has failed in his bid to have charges dropped in relation to a controversial land purchase in 2002.

Six people face fraud charges and after seven years of investigation, the case is expected to go to court this year.

Walter Zweifel reports

"The case revolves around allegations of fraud by the then president, Gaston Flosse, his deputy, Edouard Fritch, and Mr Tong Sang, who was the land minister when the government bought Anuanuraro atoll. They have been accused of abusing public funds by buying the atoll from the territory's leading pearl producer, Robert Wan, for nine million US dollars, which was five times its market value. Mr Flosse has said the atoll was bought to prevent its sale to Japanese investors. Mr Tong Sang has denied any wrongdoing, saying he acted on the president's instructions."