Top French diplomat quits Hong Kong post after £4,000 burgundy vanishes
The French consul general to Hong Kong has been forced to quit after he was accused of hiding two bottles of very expensive burgundy in his suit before making a quick exit from an exclusive club.
Marc Fonbaustier, 46, who had been France's most senior diplomat in Hong Kong and Macao for more than a year, resigned last week citing "strictly personal" reasons.
But sources from the Hong Kong justice system told Le Monde that Fonbaustier was under investigation for pilfering two bottles of wine from the exclusive Hong Kong Country Club. The alleged theft was said to have taken place in the club's basement restaurant, the Wine Cellar, whose walls are lined with bottles and monitored by CCTV.
The Hong Kong paper Apple Daily reported the wine was worth up to ¤5,000 (about £4,200). The paper said that a few months previously the consul had taken a very expensive bottle of wine from the Hong Kong Golf Club but had explained to police that he had mistaken it for a gift.
Fonbaustier, in his role as the most important French diplomat in the territories, had often vaunted the importance of French wine and the top vintages, particularly burgundy, drunk by Hong Kong high society.
Bernard Valero, spokesman for the French foreign office, confirmed Fonbaustier had been suspended and was under investigation. He said his actions were "unlikely to meet the requirements of professional conduct for a French diplomat". Valero told Le Monde Fonbaustier had "admitted the facts and paid reimbursement".
A former counsellor at the French embassy in New Delhi, Fonbaustier is married with three children.