Algeria is sweeping corruption pending new government

Algeria’s Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned following weeks of mass protests against him and the parliament appointed Abdelkader Bensalah interim president, to the dissatisfaction of protesters who want allies of the former president and corrupt leaders completely out of the system. While Bensalah is here to stay, the same cannot be said of other allies of the former president.

As of April 23, four billionaire brothers, the Kouninef brothers, were arrested and placed in temporary custody by a judge in Algiers as part of the ongoing anti-corruption drive by army chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah, whose aim is to prosecute members of the ruling elite accused of corruption. 

The business tycoons— Reda, Abdelkader, Tarek, and Karim Kouninef — are believed to have amassed a fortune through preferential access to lucrative state contracts.  They are being held over a corruption investigation and on Wednesday, the court decided to extend their pre-trial detention.

The brothers who are involved in a range of business activity, including civil engineering were arrested together with Algeria’s wealthiest businessman, Issad Rebrab, founder and chairman of Cevital, Algeria’s biggest privately held company.

Rebrab is accused of making false statements concerning the transfer of funds and importing “used equipment” despite enjoying tax cuts contingent on the purchase of new material. Meanwhile, Rebrab denies being arrested as he says he went to the police on a business matter.

In another news interim President, Bensalah, appoints Sonatrach’s Head of Production and Exploration, Rachid Hachichi, as the new CEO of the state-owned oil giant, replacing Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour.