(CelebrityAccess) — The co-founder of entertainment company Cirque du Soleil has reportedly been detained over allegations that he was growing cannabis on a private island in the South Pacific.
According to the BBC, Canadian billionaire Guy Laliberté has turned himself in to authorities in French Polynesia and is expected to appear in court this week.
In a statement to the BBC, a rep for Mr. Laliberté said that he uses the cannabis for medical and personal reasons and denies that it was a commercial endeavor.
“Guy Laliberté completely dissociates himself from any rumor implicating him… in the sale or traffic of drugs,” the statement said.
Local television station Polynesie Premiere reported last week that authorities had questioned an associate of Mr. Laliberté last week on suspicion of drug possession after images of marijuana plants were found on the individual’s cell phone.
Laliberté acquired the atoll of Nukutepipi in French Polynesia in 2007 and has since spent millions in refashioning the island into a private retreat.
In 2014, he told the Journal de Montréal that he hoped to make the place a shelter for friends and family in the event of a global disaster.
“Because of all that’s happening in the world, I said to myself: that could be the place where, in case of an epidemic or a total war, I could bring people I like and my family so that we’d be protected. It will be completely autonomous on the level operation: solar, environmental, ecologic,” he told the newspaper.
Laliberté was one of the co-founders of the Quebec-based circus company Cirque du Soleil in 1984. Originally conceived as a one-year project, the circus went on to become a massive international entertainment company that employs more than 4,000 people with multiple internationally touring productions.
Although Cirque was sold to a consortium of private equity investors in 2015, Laliberté maintains a minority interest in the company.