Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté was detained in Tahiti for allegedly cultivating cannabis on his private island in French Polynesia. Laliberté was held in custody in Papeete, Tahiti while a magistrate determined whether the drugs were being trafficked on Nov, 13.
Laliberté’s company, Lune Rouge, released a statement on the matter, explaining that he uses cannabis medically, and grows it on Nukutepipi, his private island, for personal use. Laliberté “categorically denies and dissociates himself completely from any rumours implicating him in the sale or the traffic of controlled substances,” the statement said.
According to a local television station, Polynésie 1, one of Laliberté’s associates was busted several weeks ago on suspicion of possession of cannabis. Upon further inspection, police obtained images of a cannabis plantation on the associate’s phone, alluding that Laliberté was secretly growing cannabis.
Laliberté’s lawyer, Yves Piriou, said he was confident the billionaire would be released following his appearance, although he will probably face conditions upon release.
The private island boasts unbeatable idyllic views and dream-like villas. Laliberté rents out spa facilities on his private island through Airbnb, but the cost is pricey. Laliberté’s private island falls under the jurisdiction of Gendarmerie de Polynésie française, who police the islands. Typically, French Polynesia enforces a zero tolerance policy when it comes to controlled substances including cannabis. Cannabis consumption, cultivation and transportation are prohibited in French Polynesia, ?according to the Centre de Consultations Spécialisées en Alcoologie et Toxicomanie
Laliberté co-founded Cirque du Soleil in 1984 while he made a living as a street performer after dropping out of college. The entrepreneur was able to turn his passion into an enormous money-making enterprise with no apparent signs of slowing down. The bulk share of Cirque du Soleil’s value, for instance, is worth $1.5 billion USD.
The case remains ongoing until Laliberté’s punishment is served.