[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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