afrol News, 17 February - The Central Bank Director of Tunisia has revealed that companies owned by ex-President Zine Ben Ali and his wife have lent around euro 1.3 billion from Tunisian banks.
Tunisian Central Bank chief Mustapha Kamel Nabli at a press conference in Tunis said the bank had looked into the former ruling clan's business operations, discovering that a total of 182 companies owed by the ex-President, his wife Leila Trabelsi and their families had funded much of their businesses on Tunisian credits.
A total of dinar 2.5 billion (euro 1.29 billion, US$ 1.75 billion) of credits had been given to these companies by the Central Bank and other Tunisian banks. This represented 5 percent of all outstanding loans by Tunisian banks.
According to Mr Nabli, these funds however mostly could be recovered. Over 70 percent of the loans were connected to guarantees, but for dinar 430 million (euro 220 million), "there is no guarantee of recovering them," he explained at the bank's headquarters.
The Central Bank chief announced that activities of the 182 companies associated with the Ben Ali and Trabelsi families now had been put under special surveillance to assure no further funds are lost.
International assets of the Ben Ali and Trabelsi families have already been frozen after the dictator family fled the country on 14 January. Their Tunisian assets are currently under public administration.
Poster of Tunisian ex-Dictator Ben Ali at UIB bank entrance
or Ben Ali and his wife Leila came from modest origins, suggesting that their great accumulation of wealth in Tunisia was done by illegal means and corruption. Especially Ms Trabelsi's sons and extended family and the couple's son-in-laws were able to accumulate great wealth and become central in key Tunisian businesses.
Meanwhile, Tunisia struggles to recover its economy after the January riots and revolution disrupted businesses, tourism and caused great material damages. The Central Bank chief however spoke of several "positive indicators", especially in the financial sector, in the Tunisian economy.
He urged Tunisian workers and businesses to "return to a normal pattern of work" to assure that international market shares are not lost and that competitiveness is maintained. Positive trends are already noted in the tourism sector, with European charter companies returning to Tunisia in the beginning of March.
Also the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week was optimistic regarding a quick economic recovery in Tunisia. "Tunisian authorities themselves said they expect a growth of 2 to 3 percent in their economy this year. In our point of view, this seems a very reasonable forecast," IMF analyst Masood Ahmed said.
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