Tunisair and Ben Ali, A System of Impunity and the Dictator Benefitting from it

On August 17, 2009, Tunisair sold its 33 million dt shares with UIB bank to people close to Ben Ali. Barely three months later, the company purchases ant a brand new A340 for the former president. Supervised by Mongi Safra, these two intertwined events illustrate a system where everything was arranged in order to satisfy the regime.
30 March 2021
inkystories [{"user_id":"1510","role":"Translation and Voice-Acting"},{"user_id":"4,1361","role":"Article"},{"user_id":"1473,1472","role":"Montage, Mixing and Sound Design"},{"user_id":"1429","role":"Recording"}] https://inkyfada.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/tunisair-et-ben-ali.mp3 https://inkyfada.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/inkystories-tunisair-ben-ali-dictateur-fr-1.srtintro.srt Tunisair et Ben Ali, un système impuni au service d'un dictateur - الخطوط الجوية التونسية و بن علي: نظام في خدمة دكتاتور وظل دون محاسبة Tunisair et Ben Ali, un système impuni au service d'un dictateur - الخطوط الجوية التونسية و بن علي: نظام في خدمة دكتاتور وظل دون محاسبة Le 17 août 2009, Tunisair vend ses actions à l'UIB pour 33 millions de dinars à des proches de Ben Ali. À peine trois mois plus tard, la compagnie achète un A340 flambant neuf pour l'ancien président, Supervisées par Mongi Safra, ces deux affaires entremêlées sont révélatrices d’un système où tout était mis en place pour satisfaire le pouvoir. يوم 17 أوت 2009، باعت شركة الخطوط الجوية التونسية نصيبها من أسهم الإتحاد الدولي للبنوك مقابل 33 مليون دينار لأقرباء وقريبات بن علي. ولم يطل الأمر أكثر من ثلاثة أشهر حتى اقتنت الشركة طائرة A340 جديدة للرئيس. تحت إدارة المنجي صفرة، فضحت هاتان الصفقتان وجه نظام بأكمله يعمل حصرا لتلبية رغبات السلطة. 49571
Created by
Inkyfada Podcast
Translation and Voice-Acting
Dhia Bousselmi
Malek Khadhraoui, Haïfa Mzalouat
Montage, Mixing and Sound Design
Oussema Gaidi, Yassine Kawana
Bochra Triki

[This article was translated and read in Tunisian]

" When Ben Ali asked for something, we could say yes, but never no." Nabil Chettaoui, the former CEO of Tunisair, is well aware of this. On March 29, 2008, upon returning from the Arab League summit, the former president asked for a new plane, complaining that the current one had gotten " too small".

But Tunisair could not afford to immediately satisfy this whim, and definitely not without involving Mongi Safra, the economic advisor to the president and architect behind the many financial affairs of the presidential family. He made sure that Tunisair sold their UIB shares (for 33 million dinars), and that the beneficiaries were people close to Ben Ali. 

Later on, through a skillfull arrangement, the presidential family would make a profit of 7 million dinars by reselling the very same shares. By manipulating the limits of the law, Mongi Safra and the president made sure that Tunisair, Tunisian banks, and several companies collaborated to enrich the presidential family, to the detriment of Tunisair and public finances.

Was this money used to finance the airplane for Ben Ali, which was simultaneously purchased in November 2009? Even if the link was not definite, the concurrence between the two events raised serious suspicions at Abdelfattah Amor's National Commission for the Investigation of Corruption and Malpractice, that was set up in 2011.

After Ben Ali's departure on January 14, 2011, some people (such as Asma Mahjoub, Belhassen Trabelsi and Leila Trabelsi), have been convicted. Despite the multiple accusations against Mongi Safra and his leading role in these schemes, Safra benefited from the law on administrative reconciliation, and was able to evade conviction. The main protagonists in these two cases, representative of a system benefitting Ben Ali and those close to him, have remained, for the most part, unpunished.


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