Algeria: Saïd Bouteflika says ‘I have nothing to hide’, denies hidden wealth

By Farid Alilat
Posted on Wednesday, 1 June 2022 15:17

Said Bouteflika (l.), advisor and brother of the Algerian president, and Ali Haddad, president of the Algerian employers' association "FCE", during the funeral of former prime minister "Reda Malek" on July 30, 2017, in Algiers, Algeria.
Said Bouteflika (l.), advisor and brother of the Algerian president, and Ali Haddad, president of the Algerian employers' association "FCE", during the funeral of former prime minister "Reda Malek" on July 30, 2017, in Algiers, Algeria. Nacerdine ZEBAR.

The judiciary suspects Said Bouteflika, the former special adviser to former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, of having amassed a fortune during the 20 years of his brother's reign. Summoned to court on a different case, he took the opportunity to explain that he has "nothing to hide".

More than two years after the fall of his brother from the presidency, in April 2019, the source of Said Bouteflika’s wealth continues to fuel rumours and speculation.

On 30 May, before a court in Algiers where he is being tried in the case of the acquisition of equipment by businessman Ali Haddad for the launch of a TV channel to promote his brother’s fifth term, Saïd denied links to the colossal fortune that some people attribute to him.

He swears that his real estate assets as well as his financial assets were legally acquired.

Several flats and 100,000 euros in accounts

The former special adviser to the presidency reveals that he is the owner of a 249m2 flat in the district of Ben Aknoun, on the hills surrounding Algiers. This property was acquired in 2012 as part of a real estate development.

Saïd Bouteflika also owns a flat in central Algiers, one that he inherited on 26 July 2010 following the death of his brother Mustapha who worked as a doctor. He owns another flat in El Biar that was acquired in 1985 as part of the transfer of vacant property.

This is all that Said Bouteflika, who is presented as an emperor, has. I have nothing to hide

When questioned by the judge about other properties, including a car dealership, the former councillor said he owns a property in the capital that he inherited from his mother, Mansouriah Ghezlaoui, who died in July 2009. She is also said to have bequeathed to him another plot of land, still in the hills around Algiers; another flat; and various properties in the city of Tlemcen, where the Bouteflika family is originally from.

Said Bouteflika also details his bank assets, which are estimated at DZD10m ($68,590) and 36,000 euros ($38,582).

When asked by a magistrate to explain the origin of these funds, he explains that he had earned them legally as an academic and presidential advisor. A computer science graduate, Said Bouteflika worked for 11 years as a teacher at the University of Algiers.

When his brother came to power in 1999, he was appointed special adviser to the presidency until his arrest in May 2019. During his tenure, he received a monthly salary of DZD300,000. The 36,000 represents his mission expenses as an adviser.

52 letters

Questioned by the judge on the three garages for vehicles that he is suspected of owning, Said Bouteflika denies it, instead claiming that he drives his own car. “If you have evidence, present it,” he tells the judge. “This is all that Said Bouteflika, who is presented as an emperor, has. I have nothing to hide.”

Though he rose to the level of a vice-president during his brother’s reign, Saïd reveals that he and his wife have been the subject of 52 commissions by the Algerian justice, without evidence of irregularities or hidden wealth.

Acquitted by the military justice in January 2021 on charges of conspiracy against the state and the army, Said Bouteflika is currently incarcerated in the prison of El Harrach awaiting trial for other cases of which he is being prosecuted.

On 24 May, the criminal appeal court in Algiers acquitted him on charges of “abuse of office” and “interfering with the work of justice” in the prosecution of former energy minister Chakib Khelil, who is currently on the run in the US.

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