Cirque du Soleil founder is a medical cannabis user and was being questioned in respect of cultivation of cannabis, his company Lune Rouge says.
Montreal billionaire Guy Laliberté has categorically denied that he is involved in the trafficking of drugs.
The founder of Cirque du Soleil was arrested in French Polynesia on charges of drug trafficking and he was in front of a judge on Wednesday in the Court of Appeal in Papeete, the country’s capital.
In the statement from his Montreal-based company Lune Rouge, all of the allegations were denied: “We confirm that Mr. Guy Laliberté is currently held in custody at the Gendarmerie on the island of Tahiti. A medical cannabis user, Mr. Laliberté is being questioned in respect of cultivation of cannabis for his personal use only at the residence on the island of Nukutepipi, located in the French Polynesia. Mr. Guy Laliberté categorically denies and dissociates himself completely from any rumours implicating him in the sale or the traffic of controlled substances. We collaborate with the local authorities in the investigation.”
His lawyer, Yves Piriou, made a similar statement, denying the allegations.
It has been reported that a few weeks back the French Polynesian police had taken a man with ties to Laliberté into custody for possession of marijuana and found photos of pot plantations on his phone.
The cultivation, consumption and transportation of marijuana is illegal in French Polynesia and according to the Canadian government’s travel advisory website, in French Polynesia “penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.”
A spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, the federal government ministry that handles foreign diplomatic matters, said that they were “aware of reports that a Canadian citizen has been detained in French Polynesia. Consular officials are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information.” The Canadian government normally provides consular services to Canadians arrested abroad.
Laliberté bought the island of Nukutepipi in French Polynesia in 2007 and earlier this year, it was announced that he would be attempting to rent out the island to well-heeled guests on Airbnb for $1.1 million per week. The Airbnb listing says the property comes with a chef, captain, massage therapist, activity coordinators and a doctor. There are 21 bedrooms in total in the main villa, smaller villas and bungalows.
Laliberté, a street performer who founded