Flosse acquitted over French Polynesia atoll deal

2:08 pm on 21 October 2016

French Polynesia's former president Gaston Flosse and a leading pearl producer Robert Wan have been acquitted of corruption charges over the purchase of an atoll at an overvalued price.

Gaston Flosse

Gaston Flosse Photo: RNZ

The appeal court in Tahiti upheld the decision by the criminal court two years ago which had already cleared the two and four co-accused, including the current president Edouard Fritch.

Flosse was accused of abusing public funds by paying Mr Wan $US nine million to buy Anuanuraro atoll in 2002.

The sum was five times the atoll's value but Flosse's lawyer argued the valuations were incorrect and the embezzlement charges didn't add up.

Flosse also said that it was the then finance minister, Georges Puchon, who approved the purchase.

The prosecution took only Flosse and Mr Wan to the appeal court, wanting to give Flosse an 18-month suspended prison sentence and declare him ineligible for public office for five years.

The prosecution has now five days to decide whether to take the matter to France's highest court.

Two years ago, Flosse lost the presidency because of a corruption conviction and he is banned from holding public office until 2019 although he claims he is eligible to stand again in 2018.

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