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NEWS — Algeria’s Richest Man Held In Jail On Graft Charges

Posted By:  on  April 25, 2019


Algeria’s Richest Man Held In Jail On Graft Charges

Algeria’s richest man Issad Rebrab has been detained in jail on the public prosecutors orders, state media reported Tuesday, a day after his arrest as part of a corruption probe.

The crackdown on alleged graft follows the resignation of veteran president Abdelaziz Bouteflika in early April after weeks of mass protests against his 20-year rule.

News of Rebrabs arrest came as thousands of students thronged the capitals streets calling for the overthrow of the “system” and for trials against members of the deposed leaders inner circle.

Late on Tuesday, state television also announced the head of Algerias vital state-owned oil giant Sonatrach had been sacked.

Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour, who had headed the firm since 2017, was replaced by Rachid Hachichi on the orders of the countrys interim President Abdelkader Bensalah, it said, without giving details on why.

FAKE TRANSFERS

Rebrab, the 74-year-old chief executive of Algerias biggest privately-owned conglomerate Cevital, was placed in detention overnight, the APS news agency reported.

Forbes lists Rebrab as Algerias richest man and the sixth-wealthiest in Africa, with a net worth of $3.38 billion.

He is “suspected of having made fake statements concerning the transfer of funds to and from abroad”, APS reported.

He is also suspected of importing “used equipment” despite enjoying tax and tariff breaks intended for the purchase of new products.

On Monday, Rebrab tweeted that he had gone voluntarily to a police station to discuss “equipment that has been held up at the Algiers port since June 2018”.

Cevital, which he founded, employs 18,000 people, produces electronics, steel and food, and in recent years acquired businesses in France.

Forbes reports Cevital also owns one of the worlds largest sugar refineries, capable of producing two million tonnes a year.

TENSE RELATIONS

But while his business activities flourished under Bouteflikas rule, Rebrab has had a tense relationship with the ruling circle.

He has been in open conflict with Algerian authorities since 2015, accusing them of blocking his investments in the country.

Last month he threw his support behind the anti-Bouteflika protests.

Rebrab is one of a number of tycoons detained in graft investigations since the 82-year-old president stepped down.

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