Top Tahiti politicians ordered to repay diverted funds

6:03 pm on 26 April 2017

Top politicians in French Polynesia, including the president, have been ordered to jointly repay $US2.1 million of public funds which they misused more than a decade ago.

Gaston Flosse

Gaston Flosse Photo: AFP

According to the public broadcaster, the Supreme Court in Paris has rejected their bid to appeal against last year's French Court of Audit decision to make the group reimburse the money.

The funds were used by the former president Gaston Flosse between 1996 and 2004 for a network aimed at advancing the policies of his ruling Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party.

The 22 people implicated in the affair included the president, Edouard Fritch, and the mayor of Papeete, Michel Buillard.

The court case about the network of so-called phantom jobs was the biggest of its kind in French legal history and contributed to the demise of Gaston Flosse.

In 2014, he was forced to resign from office after he failed to persuade the French president to waive his four-year suspended jail sentence.

Edouard Fritch

Edouard Fritch Photo: Supplied/ Présidence de la Polynésie française

Last year, the defence lawyer Francois Quinquis told public television the court decision was a political one.

Flosse said he never abused public funds, adding that all contracts at the centre of the court case were approved by successive French high commissioners.

Those forced to reimburse the public purse are Gaston Flosse, Edouard Fritch, Michel Buillard, René Temeharo, Thomas Moutame, Juliette Nuupure, Marcelin Lisan, Cyril Le Gayic, Bruno Sandras, Gustave Heitaa, Edwin Tere, Heifara Parker, Teotahi Faua, Bruno Taaroamea, Emile Brotherson, Hands Pifao, Robert Hitiaa, Marcelino Teata, Johanes Cridland, Gaston Bernardino, François Asen et Sylvia Wong Po.

Two of the men Victor Doom and Jacques Vii have since died.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs