The greatest corruption case in Algeria may be back in the spotlights again:
The Pension Fund and the Social Security Fund in Algeria have been recently on the verge of financial deficit, according to the Minister of Labor, “Mourad Zamali”. Meanwhile, the "Khalifa Bank" corruption case in Algeria came in the limelight once again, in light of the filing of an appeal at the Supreme Court. An issue that raised a lot of controversy and triggered the media to write about it, as a large number of both accused and witnesses start to leave the political scene of the country under the rule of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika and in light of a new rule and new regime that have not been determined yet.
The Secretary-General of the National Liberation Front (the ruling party), expressed his support for the Secretary-General of the General Union of Algerian Workers, “Abdelmajid Sidi Said” to remain in his office in response to the latter's statements about his cancer and his resolve to leave. In addition, the Secretary-General’s statements questioned the different parties’ true intensions behind their support of president Bouteflika’s regime, its weakness and its near ending.
In fact, hot debates emerged in the National Trade Union Center about the workers’ money that was looted in the file of “Abdul Moemen Khalifa”, the owner of the "Khalifa Bank". The funds were deposited by “Abdul Majid Sidi Said” in the bank before announcing the disappearance of billions of dollars.
A testimony that delivers serious confessions:
The judge of the session had subjected the present Secretary-General of the National Trade Union Center to questions that have remained without answer until today. The Algerian newspaper "Al-Hiwar" had quoted a dialogue between the judge and “Sidi Said” in the trial session in the Blida courts to review the “Khalifa” case in 2007, during which the former Minister of Finance and the current president of the Constitutional Council of Algeria, “Mourad Medelci ”were present , in addition to “Sidi Said”, the Secretary General of the General Union of Algerian Workers, who both answered the questions of the judge “Fatiha Brahimi”, and this is a part of their controversial testimony:
The judge is calling “The Secretary General of the National Trade Union Center,” Sidi Said”; adding: I had a shortage of information before the admittance decision”
The judge: Introduce yourself
“Sidi Said”: The former chairman of the board of the National Social Security Fund.
The judge: could you explain to us what constitutes the council and what are its functions?
“Sidi Said”: It consists of the workers’ representatives, the employers’ representatives ("patronat “) and 29 administration representatives.
The judge: Who is responsible of the management?
“Sidi Said”: The general administration of the fund, the relationship between the board and the general administration is a temporary one.
The judge: No .. No .. Mr. “Sidi Said” we are working according to the law and the law is clear, it is the general administration that informs the decisions of the ministry, and the board is the decision-maker by a two-thirds of the members’ majority.
“Sidi Said”: Yes, through voting, and then the decisions are sent to the ministry of labor, which is in charge of their ratification.
The judge: If the body responsible of taking decisions is the board, and the general administration is the one that informs the decisions of the board to the ministry within 15 days, do you have a frank and direct answer about who has the power of decision-making?
“Sidi Said”: the board of directors.
The judge: Is there an exception?
“Sidi Said”: It is impossible, but the general administration of the fund is entitled to take some exceptional decisions outside the board.
The judge: No, sir; the law stipulates that there is a board with an agenda to study and decisions to make through voting. I want a direct response from you, on February 12th, 2002 did the board meet?
“Sidi Said”: The board did not meet on this date.
The judge: What happened?
“Sidi Said”: Listen, Madam President, on April 21, 2004, we dealt with the bodies that deposited their money in the banks, which give more benefits, and we sent the deliberation to the ministry.
The judge: When was the admittance decision issued?
“Sidi Said”: The 12 February document of the meeting is not forged, as you said, madam.
The judge: I did not say this.
“Sidi Said”: I read it in the press.
The judge: Mr. “Sidi Said” we are at court. You say in the document that the meeting was held and a minute of deliberations was issued.
“Sidi Said”: On 7 February 2001, the term was renewed until the inauguration on 31 March.
The judge: So, the board did not meet, but you had sent the document to the minister, in which you said that you are sending these minutes of the deliberations of the board of directors, with honors to the minister of foreign affairs on 12 February 2002.
“Sidi Said”: Mrs. the president, I take the responsibility for this deliberation if the decision is not legal in September 2002.
The judge: So, the board that made the decision, was you?
“Sidi Said”: The filing and the deliberation took place on 28 January.
The judge: Why did you issue the minutes of deliberations while the board did not meet?
“Sidi Said”: I did not have the information of January 28, 2002.
The judge: If you have authorized it to deposit the funds in the “Khalifa Bank”, this means that there is a written document indicating that but in fact there is no document
“Sidi Said”: I am the one who ratified and sent it to the ministry.
The judge: You are here as a witness and nothing will change, you have a record in the board of directors, how can you explain that it includes a board meeting on a given day and the minutes on another day?
“Sidi Said”: I have no comment, I remember that I held the board were and administratively there was fraud.
The judge: the board members confirmed today, that the board did not convene and that they did not attend, how would do you explain that?
“Sidi Said”: I had a shortage of information, I was not informed about all the details before making the admittance decision.
The judge: Who has deliberated and issued the decisions?
“Sidi Said”: It was me, and they were transferred by the head of the administration to the ministry.
The judge: Who signed them?
“Sidi Said”: Myself.
The judge: How many admittance decisions you made yourself during your term?
“Sidi Said”: 5 agreements.
The judge: When was the last one?
“Sidi Said”: On 12 September 2002.
The judge: That means it was before you left?
“Sidi Said”: Yes.
Thus, the Secretary General of the National Trade Union Center admitted to the judiciary that he supervised and signed the admittance deposit of the workers’ money of the National Fund for Social Security, but the judiciary chose to hear him as a witness at first.
"Al Chorouk "exposes the "great unionist and investor":
"Al Chorouk "(a daily newspaper) criticized harshly the Secretary-General of the current trade union center “Abdelmajid Sidi Said” in 2013, after accusing him of being involved in a big scandal. In fact, he participated in the establishment of the Algerian “patronat” and signed its establishment certificate on
last 30 September, according to the record in “Al Chorouk” newspaper (which succeeded in obtaining a copy of it).
“Abdelwahab Boukrouh” said: "This is the first time in the history of trade unions in the country since the establishment of the General Union of Algerian Workers on February 24, 1956, that the secretary-general reveals his true identity as a businessman, not a representative and defender of the working class to the Algerian workers as stipulated by the internal regulations of the union .. ".
The fall of “Sidi Said”, whose term ended as the head of the General Union of Algerian Workers last April was caused by the 2014 elections.
The “Khalifa Bank” case is the most famous case of corruption in Algeria, as it affected thousands of depositors, investors, government bodies and economic companies that had deposited their money in this private bank under the temptation of the interest rates estimated at that time by 7%, while the government banks granted interest rate of not more than 3 percent. In fact, “Abdul Moemen Khalifa” seized and smuggled these large funds abroad, through the airline company he owned, and used the money to make a joint with Algeria, France, Britain and other countries, and worked on publicizing himself by exploiting famous actors such as the French actor “Gerard Depardieu” and funding sports teams in Algeria and France.
The criminal court in “Blida” (west of Algiers) sentenced the former Algerian businessman “Abdul Moemen Khalifa” to 18 years in jail for "forming a criminal association, for stealing, embezzlement and the forgery of bank cheques." The prosecution has previously asked for a life sentence against the accused. Will the file be opened again?
By Said Boudour