Tunisia: anti-graft groups to lodge suit against Ben Ali

17th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Two anti-corruption watchdogs said Monday they plan to lodge complaints against ousted Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in French courts, alleging corruption and embezzlement.

Ben Ali fled Tunisia on Friday following a popular uprising against his 23-year-old rule, and campaigners are scrambling to track his family's money before it disappears into the international financial underworld.

The French government said its own financial watchdog, TracFin, would use administrative measures to delay suspicious transfers of funds in France, and said it was at the diposal of Tunisian authorities if they want legal action.

The daily Le Monde, citing French intelligence sources, reported that Ben Ali's wife Leila Trabelsi may have taken 1.5 tonnes in gold bars from Tunisia's central bank before she fled the country, but the bank denied it.

"We are going to lodge a complaint in Paris within two days for corruption, money-laundering and embezzlement," said lawyer William Bourdon, acting for the non-governmental groups Sherpa and Transparency International.

Bourdon said TracFin's administrative measures would not be enough to stop the alleged stolen funds from "evaporating", and argued that judicial action was necessary.

© 2011 AFP

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