from DELWINE Newsletter December 1

In a country like ours where new multi-million dollar scams are unearthed  with unfailing regularity, the event might be laughed off by the bureaucrats but it did not take long for the French government to recall their Consul Général in Hong Kong and Macau, and the former second counselor at the French embassy in New Delhi, for stealing two (2) bottles of expensive wines at a private club in Hong Kong.

The top French diplomat in Hong Kong and Macau was suspended and recalled to Paris last week according to a report in AFP on Tuesday.  Marc Fonbaustier, 46, France’s consul-general in the Chinese semi-autonomous territories, was forced to leave his job after Beijing apparently sought his removal just over a year after taking the top-ranking post.

According to a report in the ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper, the wine was worth HK$50,000 (about US$ 6,400 or € 4,740). As expected, both the Police and the French consulate in Hong Kong declined to comment, according to the report.

On Thursday last, the foreign ministry had said an « administrative investigation » had begun, adding that Fonbaustier’s unspecified actions would « likely not meet the requirements of professional conduct for a French diplomat« .  « He is suspended from duty, » ministry spokesman Bernard Valero reportedly said, adding, “An administrative investigation has been started based on the circumstances behind the decision. »

The French newspaper Le Monde has reported that Mr Fonbaustier apparently hid two bottles of wine in his trousers before removing them from the restaurant of a private club.  The main evidence in the case reportedly comes from CCTV footage of the restaurant, the newspaper added.

Fonbaustier is an alumnus of the ENA (Ecole Nationale d’Administration), France’s top school for high civil servants, and equivalent of our IAS Academy in Dehradun.  His rank would also be the equivalent of an IFS officer, perhaps that of an Ambassador to a smaller country.