World News
Ex-Algerian tycoon jailed 18 years over corruption

Former Algerian businessman Abdelmoumene Rafik Khalifa on Tuesday was sentenced to 18 years in prison by the criminal court of Blida in one of heaviest corruption cases in the nation.

The accused was charged with conspiracy, breach of trust, forgery and use of forgeries, corruption, and fraudulent bankruptcy.

The trial, which began on May 4, heard 71 senior political, financial, sporting and cultural Algerian personalities, either as defendants or witnesses.

After one week deliberation, Khalifa was sentenced to 18 years, and fined 90,000 U.S. dollars, in addition to the confiscation of his properties. He was acquitted of abuse of influence charge. Meanwhile, 53 defendants were acquitted, while 18 others were sentenced to three to 10 years.

A son of a former minister, Khalifa emerged as a young businessman in early 2000s through the establishment of a bank, an airway company and some other business in pharmacy, construction and tourism.

This young man has been able to form a fortune in record time, as he was nicknamed “the Golden boy” by the Algerian media. However, one of assistants was caught by airport police while smuggling a big sum of hard currency. An investigation was opened immediately to reveal a large money laundering and corruption case. Then Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia called it “the scandal of the century.”

Khalifa managed to leave the country to Britain, while the Algerian government in 2006 started the liquidation of Khalifa Group in 2006.

Khalifa was first tried in absentia in 2007 while arrested in Britain, as he was inflicted life sentence.

Besides his home country, the accused is also sued by the French justice for “breach of trust, misappropriation of assets, bankruptcy accounting concealment and money laundering in an organized gang”.

Mr. Khalifa was arrested March 27, 2007 in Britain as part of a European arrest warrant issued by the High Court of Nanterre (Hauts-de-Seine, in the Ile-de-France).

Rafik Khalifa was extradited to Algeria in December 24, 2013 after more than ten years exile in London.

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