French Presidential scandal linked to journalist’s disappearance



Jean-Pascal Couraud was Editor-in-Chief of Tahiti News, a large Polynesian newspaper based in Pape’ete, the capital of French Polynesia. In 1997, he disappeared. His body has never been found. The official explanation, which is fervently rejected by Couraud’s family, is that the prominent journalist committed suicide. However, on December 29, a suspicious letter was seized from the office of former Polynesian President, Gaston Flosse. It was written by Vetea Cadousteau, a former member of Groupement d’ Intervention de la Polynésie (GIP), the Polynesian secret services. In it, Cadousteau claims that he helped GIP abduct Couraud to stop him from further investigating an alleged illegal fund transfer by a large Polynesian company to a secret Japanese bank account belonging to French former President Jacques Chirac.

The letter goes on to explain that Couraud was tortured to reveal the location of his files on the fund transfer case. Large stones were then tied to his legs and he was thrown in the deep waters of the southern Pacific Ocean. It is worth noting that Cadousteau was found dead in 2004 in “very disturbing” circumstances. French press agency AFP described Cadousteau’s letter as “a last testament” in which the former GIP agent explained he “feared for his life”. Another former GIP agent, Firmin Hauata, or Firmin Tepuai, who allegedly participated in Couraud’s abduction and murder is said to have “died of a heart attack in Tonga”.

The revelation of Cadousteau’s letter by the Couraud family attorney has prompted the French justice system to begin an official investigation of Jacques Chirac’s alleged Japanese bank account. On December 30th, France’s Minister of Defense, Herve Morin, announced that over a dozen documents related to Couraud’s disappearance will be declassified from the archives of the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE) France’s foreign intelligence agency.

France’s former President claims the allegations are phony rumors that first began circulating in 2002, when he was running for a second term as French President. He denies having any links to any Japanese bank accounts. In May 2006, he even went on television to officially deny he had set up a secret Japanese bank account in 1992, while he was Mayor of Paris. For more information on the case of Jean-Pascal Couraud, see the JPK Update blog. [JF]

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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