Kais Saied raises the issue of looted Tunisian funds abroad

Tunisian President Kais Saied on Wednesday raised again the issue of looted funds abroad during a meeting with Prime Minister Najla Bouden at the Carthage presidential palace.

“The President of the Republic raised the issue of speeding up the implementation of all necessary measures following the issuance of a ruling on looted funds abroad, which are the property of the Tunisian people”, the presidency said in a statement. The Tunisian president gave instructions to convene the committee in charge of recovering stolen funds found abroad as soon as possible.

“This committee was established last September and is under the supervision of the presidency, but we have not seen any results or movements”, said Charfeddine Yakoubi, an expert on governance and anti-corruption.

“The issue is institutional rather than political declarations, and although the availability of political will is very important for the recovery of these funds, it is in the end a technical issue that requires the creation of the necessary judicial mechanisms and tools to make this course a success”, adding that the file is losing its momentum, and even Tunisia’s ability to bring these funds has begun to weaken, especially as we know that these Western countries, which see Tunisia as going through an unstable political situation, may find their cooperation difficult.

The issue of the return of looted funds remains a judicial file par excellence, and there is judicial cooperation, but Tunisia has to prepare for it through the assignment of competent lawyers who are able to prepare their cases; because the cases will be abroad to prove the sources of these funds and to prove that they were indeed looted.

“This depends on the efforts of this committee and the material and human resources that will be used for this purpose”, he said, noting that the chances are slim.

“Whether the political will is there or not, it is difficult to succeed in bringing in looted funds because of the long period and the complacency with this file, by ignoring the provision of the necessary tools and capabilities, and also the current political process, which may weaken Tunisia’s position in defending these rights”, Yakoubi said; This is because the course has several political problems.

In July 2021, after he took control of most of the power to oust his Islamist opponents, Kais Saied announced the value of the looted money, amounting to $4.8 billion. But Saied did not mention at the time whether this figure included all the looted money or just the looted money at home, for which he issued a decree last March stipulating investment in poor areas in exchange for an amnesty for those accused of looting public money.

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