Algeria’s President Abdelmajid Tebboune and his government are currently being embarrassed by revelations of the colossal fortune fraudulently accumulated by the late Army Chief of Staff, General Ahmed Gaïd Salah, (d. 23.12.19) and his family.

Menas Associates’ own sources estimate that Gaïd Salah embezzled at least US$100 million from the state coffers and transferred much of it to the UAE. The details of his defrauding of the Ministry of Defence are unlikely to come to light quickly because they are hugely embarrassing to the army which remains the main institution of the Algerian State. However, the security services’ investigations into the origins of the general’s family fortune — notably that of two of his adult sons Adel Gaïd Salah and Boumédiène Gaïd Salah — are gradually coming to light. 

Adel Gaïd Salah and Boumédiène Gaïd Salah – A chip off the old block?

Having issued Interdiction de quitter le territoire national (ISTN) orders to both Adel andBoumédiène Gaïd Salah on 18 August — which prevents them from leaving the country — the security services deliberately or inadvertently leaked the progress of their investigations into the origin of Adel’s andBoumédiène’s wealth to the media. On 31 August, for example, El Watan published a fairly detailed account of these investigations. The two brothers are now unwisely trying to sue for defamation despite the revelations so far merely being the tip of the iceberg. The family’s fraudulent activities are mindboggling and defamation is only likely to reveal more of them to the public.

The security services’ leak to El Watan appears to be another illustration of the confusion and contractions within the regime. Not only has the government remained silent on the El Watan report but immediately acted against the newspaper. Having sent ‘squads of buyers’ to grab all copies of the paper from the news-stands — in an attempt to limit its circulation to the public — the government then proceeded to punish El Watan by cancelling public advertising which is the majority source of income for Algerian newspapers. Such action was often used by the previous administration of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The country’s low-priced newspapers largely depend on state-sector advertising for their financial survival. Some government sources accused El Watan of damaging the image of the army by publishing a picture of Gaïd Salah on its front page.

These actions appear to have been ordered by the Presidency which might seem curious in light of Tebboune’s very public fight against corruption and especially that associated with the Bouteflika and Gaïd Salah eras. He would, however, prefer that Gaïd Salah’s many scandals are kept under wraps because he is very aware of the fact that he was personally installed in the Presidency following last-minute orders by Gaïd Salah. Any further public degradation of Gaïd Salah threatens to turn the spotlight on the fraudulent election of Tebboune and his illegitimate appointment to office.

This excerpt is taken from Algeria Politics & Security, our weekly intelligence report on Algeria. Click here to receive a free sample copy.

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