Tunisia freezes assets of former presidential hopeful

Slim Riahi, accused of money laundering in government anti-corruption drive, says he is victim of political blackmail.

    The origin of Slim Riahi's fortune is unclear [File: Anis Mili/Reuters]
    The origin of Slim Riahi's fortune is unclear [File: Anis Mili/Reuters]

    Authorities in Tunisia have announced that they froze the assets of football club magnate and former presidential hopeful Slim Riahi on suspicions of money laundering.

    An investigating judge imposed the restriction on all of Riahi's shares on the stock market, bank accounts and property, said prosecution spokesman Sofiene Sliti on Wednesday.

    Tunisian corruption whistleblowers call for protection

    Riahi was quick to respond to the allegations, telling the private Nessma TV channel he was a victim of "political blackmail" and that the anti-corruption drive was selective.

    Without naming them, Riahi accused certain parties of being behind the move aimed at getting rid of him and denounced "defamation... by some media working for the government".

    Nebulous past

    The businessman has a nebulous past, with the origin of his fortune unclear, although he reportedly has links to the family of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

    Riahi is the president of the Free Patriotic Union (UPL) political party which came third in the 2014 parliamentary election.

    He ran for president in the same year and is also the owner of Club Africain, one of the two biggest football clubs in Tunisia which won this year's domestic cup.

    Wednesday's announcement comes after the government launched what Tunisia's Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has called a "war" on corruption from which he said nobody involved would emerge unscathed.

    Corruption was widespread in Tunisia under Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, a longtime president, who was overthrown in the 2011 uprising that started the Arab Spring, but it remains endemic.

    Tunisia: Protesters demand more jobs and higher investment

    SOURCE: AFP news agency


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    John Pilger Q&A: 'US missiles are pointed at China'

    John Pilger Q&A: 'US missiles are pointed at China'

    Journalist John Pilger thinks the US and China might be on the path to war. "My film is a warning," he says.

    Why Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel

    Why Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel

    No country in the world recognises Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

    Sadly but frankly, Donald Trump is not going anywhere

    Sadly but frankly, Donald Trump is not going anywhere

    Trump isn't going to be impeached by this or perhaps any future Congress as currently constituted.