Algeria’s richest man walks free after 8 months in prison

Algerian entrepreneur and CEO of CEVITAL industrial group Issad Rebrab is seen leaving the El-Harrach prison on January 1, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 02 January 2020

Algeria’s richest man walks free after 8 months in prison

  • Rebrab had already spent eight months in custody awaiting trial

ALGIERS: Algeria’s richest man Issad Rebrab walked free on time served early on Wednesday after a court sentenced him to six months for tax, banking and customs offenses.

Prosecutors had sought a one-year prison sentence for the 74-year-old head of Algeria’s biggest privately owned conglomerate Cevital, who was one of several tycoons arrested in April as part of a sweeping corruption investigation.

The probe followed the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika after weeks of mass protests against his 20-year rule.

Rebrab had already spent eight months in custody awaiting trial, more than his sentence, so he was released by the court. 

He was fined 1.383 billion dinars (more than $11.6 million, more than €10.3 million).

Cevital subsidiary Evcon was fined 2.766 billion dinars (€20.7 million). Jordan-based Housing Bank for Trade and Finance, which was also prosecuted, was fined 3.169 billion dinars (€23.7 million).

They were convicted of breaking laws on foreign exchange and fund transfers as well as forgery and false custom declarations.

Forbes magazine lists Rebrab as Algeria’s richest man and the sixth-wealthiest in Africa, with a net worth of $3.9 billion in 2019.

Cevital employs 18,000 people, produces electronics, steel and food, and in recent years it has acquired businesses in France.

While his businesses flourished under Bouteflika’s rule, Rebrab had backed the protests that ultimately forced the president to resign in April.

His company has said it was “astonished” by his arrest.

UAE airlines Emirates, Etihad resume limited passenger flights

Updated 17 min 57 sec ago

UAE airlines Emirates, Etihad resume limited passenger flights

  • Emirates said it operated a flight to London late Sunday, Frankfurt on Monday
  • Etihad tweeted it operated a flight to South Korean capital Seoul

DUBAI: UAE carriers Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways have resumed limited passenger flights two weeks after authorities grounded airlines as part of wider shutdowns to combat coronavirus.
The flights are open to foreign citizens who wish to leave the United Arab Emirates, but no incoming passengers are allowed. Foreign residents are banned from re-entering until at least mid-April.
Dubai’s Emirates, the largest carrier in the Middle East, said it operated a flight to London late Sunday and another to Frankfurt on Monday as part of its limited resumption.
It said in a statement that it plans to operate four flights a week to London and three weekly flights each to Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels and Zurich.
Wearing face masks and other protective gear at Dubai Airport on Monday, some 212 travelers to Frankfurt went through thermal screening before they boarded the aircraft.
Etihad said on its Twitter account that it resumed limited operation with a passenger flight to Seoul on Sunday.
The carrier said it will operate seven flights to Seoul, five to Singapore, six to Manila and two flights to Jakarta through April 21.
Last week Emirates said that cleaning and disinfection of the planes will take place after each flight.
UAE civil aviation authorities slapped a total ban on passenger flights two weeks ago at all the Gulf state’s airports.
But the two carriers on Thursday were issued approvals for limited flights to repatriate stranded foreigners.
The UAE has declared 2,076 coronavirus cases and 11 deaths.
It has imposed a sweeping lockdown, including the flight ban and closure of borders, shopping malls, entertainment centers and markets.
A 24-hour curfew was introduced on Thursday following a big jump in the number of cases in the UAE, where some 10 million people live.