February 23, 2011
Falcon 9000 Jet
Zine El Abidene Ben Ali
During his 23 year regime, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the ex-Tunisian leader, managed to accrue assets worth $5 billion. After weeks of anti-government protests in Tunisia, Mr Ben Ali resigned and fled with his wife to Saudi Arabia late last year.
It has been reported that both the Arab Commission for Human Rights and Transparency International have launched a case and charged the former leader with money laundering, funds misappropriation and corruption.
Following in the footsteps of Switzerland, where officials have not only frozen billions of francs from a bank account belonging to Mr Ben Ali, but also grounded his Falcon 9000 jet in Geneva, French authorities have seized a family jet of the ousted Tunisian President. The high performance Bombardier business jet was found by French officials parked in a hanger at Le Bourget airport near Paris last month. The jet plane is believed to have been owned by the Mabrouk family, which includes Ben Ali’s son-in-law.
The confiscating of the jet came in the wake of a complaint by three French NGOs, who are accusing Mr Ben Ali of corruption. In the light of these accusations, a request was made by European Union foreign ministers, to have all the ex-president’s assets blocked.
Although Mr Ben Ali and his wife’s fortunes are believed to stretch much further than their fondness for jet planes. Tunisian authorities are also investigating the couple’s assets abroad, which are believed to include more than 30 properties, including houses and hotels in Paris, the Alps and the Cote d’Azur.