Will the government negotiate with the oligarchs of the Bouteflika clan?

Two and a half years after Bouteflika’s fall, Algeria is still struggling to recover the money embezzled by the former president’s clan.

It is revealed during the oligarchs’ trials, how much looting leaves you speechless. Known to be close to Said Bouteflika, Ali Haddad alone illegally benefited from 452 bank loans and 275 public contracts with a total value of 100 billion dinars, or more than 800 million dollars. Even worse, the former oligarch owns financial and real estate assets in Spain, Dubai, France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

And all of this is only the tip of the iceberg, because what was revealed by the trials of businessmen and former ministers shows tens of billions of dollars embezzled during the twenty years of Bouteflika’s rule.

Where is the issue of refunding embezzled money?

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who was elected in December 2019, had made recovery of embezzled funds a pillar of the election campaign. Since his inauguration, the head of state has launched the judicial machine in order to track down these looted funds, but the case is struggling to move forward.

In all, 53 international court requests were issued last June by Algerian courts to locate the embezzled funds. These legal requests were directed mainly to China, France, Spain, Switzerland, Panama, Italy, Luxembourg, the United States of America, the United Arab Emirates and Canada.

Do these requests for international judicial cooperation advance the file? According to specialists, the progress of the procedures for recovering the embezzled funds depends on several factors, including negotiation with the accused, a proposal that the government is preparing to submit to Parliament.

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The new government’s strategy

The government considers the fastest way to recover the embezzled funds, and the government wants to adopt the “friendly settlement method”. The proposal is part of the Ben Abd al-Rahman government’s action plan.

The main lines of the government’s action plan do not detail the procedures for “this type of friendly settlement” but everything indicates that the state is moving towards “negotiating” with the oligarchy. It means: paying the public treasury in exchange for mitigating the penalty.

It should be noted that several political parties, including the Bena Movement and Le Front El Moustakbal (FM), have proposed this amicable settlement procedure. Moreover, Abdelkader bin Qurainah has repeatedly called on the authorities to negotiate with businessmen. According to him, “these negotiations” could allow Algeria to recover $200 billion.

Next Monday, the government will present its action plan to the members of the National People’s Congress (APN). Does Parliament adopt the friendly settlement proposal? Will the few agree to negotiate? Time will tell.

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