Algeria’s richest man Issad Rebrab was reportedly arrested on Wed., May 17, by agents of the Algerian Central Office for the Fight against Organized Crime.
According to a news report by Maghreb Element, Rebrab was arrested concerning “questionable financial transactions” of Cevital Group “with entities based abroad.”
The state prosecutor allegedly used Algeria’s recently established laws on financial and commercial transactions with foreign-based entities to justify the arrest.
The 79-year-old billionaire has been placed under judicial review by a prosecutor affiliated with the notorious court of Sidi M’hamed in Algiers, a court that the present regime has used to prosecute politicians, journalists, and rights activists.
However, according to another report by the North Africa journal, Rebrab was arrested by Algerian authorities for allegedly paying the legal fees of Ali Ghediri, a prominent retired army general who ran against sitting President Abdelmadjid Tebboune during the country’s 2019 presidential elections.
General Ghediri has been serving a four-year prison sentence.
In September 2021, Ghediri was sentenced by the Dar-El-Beïda court (Algiers) to four years in prison for “participating during peacetime in undertakings aimed at weakening army morale.”
Critics of Tebboune insist the charges are spurious and politically motivated.
On Tuesday, during an appeal trial, Ghediri’s sentence was increased by two additional years just as he was preparing to leave prison on June 13 after serving his entire sentence.
Tebboune is seeking reelection in next year’s Presidential elections, and it is generally believed that General Ghediri was planning to contest.
“The real reason for Issad Rebrab’s arrest is a political stunt ordered by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and his clan to punish him for having paid the fees of the lawyers of Ghediri, who could become a major problem in next year’s presidential elections. The Tebboune clan is said to have interpreted this legal funding by Issad Rebrab as the start of a new process of financial and logistical support for candidates who could oppose Tebboune’s reelection bid,” the North Africa Journal reported.
Rebrab was arrested in April 2019 and detained in jail as part of a corruption probe.
Among other things, Rebrab was accused of importing used machinery despite enjoying tax and customs breaks made available by authorities to purchase new material.
Rebrab is the founder of Cevital, which employs 12,000 people and is active in electronics, steel, and food. He is worth $4.9 billion, according to Forbes.