France - Algeria

‘Algerian Bill Gates’ on trial in France on massive embezzlement charges

Algerian billionaire Rafik Khalifa, currently in jail in his homeland
Algerian billionaire Rafik Khalifa, currently in jail in his homeland AFP

An Algerian billionaire, whose billion-euro business empire extended to sponsoring Olympique Marseille, in on trial for allegedly embezzling large sums of money in France.

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The trial of Rafik Khalifa, once hailed as the “African Bill Gates”, started in Nanterre, near Paris, on Monday

Khalifa was a golden boy in his native Algeria until his downfall in 2002, when the businessman was accused of embezzling of more than two millions euros.

In 2007 an Algerian court found him guilty of criminal association, corruption, abuse of trust and forgery.

Now a French court is trying him on similar charges - in absentia, as he is currently serving a life sentence in jail in his homeland.

The son of a former Algerian minister, Khalifa built up a one-billion-euro business empire that extended into banking, construction, aviation, media and the sports industry.

It included a high-profile sponsorship of the French football club Olympique de Marseille.

The fall of his empire is estimated to have cost between 1.5billion and five billion euros to the Algerian state.

Ten other people, including Khalifa’s ex wife, are also accused by the French state of fraud and embezzlement.
 

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