KAZAKH INVESTMENT IN BORA BORA RESORT QUESTIONED

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Government sees nothing wrong with foreign investment

PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, July 22, 2008) - The opposition floor leader in the French Polynesia Assembly has raised questions over the partial purchase of the new Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora by investors from the oil-rich Kazakhstan in Central Asia.

[PIR editor’s note: The former soviet republic of Kazakhstan is bordered by Russia, China, and the Caspian Sea.]

Former French Polynesia Tourism Minister Jacqui Drollet issued a communiqué on the hotel's partial purchase on the eve of visiting French Overseas Junior Minister Yves Jégo's trip to the Leeward Island of Bora Bora on Tuesday.

Jégo participated in the inauguration of the 100-bungalow, seven-villa Four Seasons. The hotel, the first Four Seasons in French Polynesia, officially opens with its first paying guests on Sept. 1.

Drollet, the assembly floor leader for the Temaru-Flosse UDSP (Union for Development, Stability and Peace) opposition coalition, said in his communiqué, "In effect, it's a tax exempted hotel but discreetly resold to a group of Kazakhs investors… Yes, a good French investment under the (French) Girardin Law offered on a silver platter to the Kazakh oil kings" by Jégo and French Polynesia President/Bora Bora Mayor Gaston Tong Sang.

Drollet accused Tong Sang of having not begun a required procedure of having the assembly examine such an investment before it is approved. Drollet also claimed that the Kazahs' investment in the Four Seasons was made on Aug. 28, 2007. That, he noted, was the same day the assembly passed a motion of no confidence, ending President Tong Sang's eight months in office. He returned to power on April 15, 2008 after a motion of no confidence toppled a Temaru-Flosse coalition government.

While Drollet was obviously concerned about the Kazakhs' investment, Jégo indicated he found nothing unusual about the matter. The minister said there was nothing to object to as long as the legality was respected.

Questioned about Drollet's communiqué Monday night, Jégo said he was surprised by such a polemic. "We are in a globalized society… French Polynesia has every interest in having investors coming from across the planet," he said, noting that Four Seasons is "a big global chain".

And Jégo continued, "The more foreign investors there are, the more economic development of French Polynesia will be assured… The state is concerned about the legality of actions. It will make sure that all financial actions are made in accordance with the laws of the republic."

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