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New cases of corruption unveiled against Tunisia ministry

Supporters of Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed attend a demonstration against corruption in Tunis, Tunisia on May 26, 2017 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]
Tunisians attend a demonstration against corruption in Tunis, Tunisia on 26 May 2017 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

The President of Tunisia’s National Anti-Corruption Agency (INLUCC) yesteray unveiled new cases of “alleged” corruption involving officials at the Ministry of Finance. Chawki Tabib revealed a number of files “of corruption” surrounding taxation and huge financial losses.

Speaking at a conference in Tunis on “tax evasion and human rights”, Tabib spoke about the suspected corruption of officials at the Ministry of Finance which have caused a “significant loss to the general treasury”.

He also revealed cases of alleged corruption in tobacco distribution channels and the closing of patents without payment of arrears by their owners. These practices affect decisions taken by certain officials in public finance who have allegedly suppressed debts totalling nearly $6 million.

“These funds should have been injected into the treasury of the state,” Tabib explained, adding that the corruption file has already been submitted for investigation.

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Other cases of alleged corruption include the writing off of debts of certain companies and people as well and overlooking unauthorised sales of products like tobacco.

Tabib stressed the importance of prevention and more reformist approaches in the fight against corruption. “Investing in the fight against corruption is a winning investment,” he said, adding that the state should spend no less than $5 per citizen in the area of good governance and in the fight against corruption.

“On every dollar spent in the fight against corruption, the state ensures benefits in the range of $150,” he stressed.

Read: Tunisia grants protection to figures from 40 corruption cases

According to Tabib, the Tunisian tax system is considered “complex” and “unfair” as it has proven to be a “gateway” for corruption that takes advantage of the complexity of the administration.

A cooperation agreement between the National Instance of Fight against Corruption (INLUCC) and the Ministry of Finance on the fight against corruption will reportedly be signed today.

This is the 13th agreement to be signed between the INLUCC and the ministries; previously it signed partnership and cooperation agreements with several structures of the Ministry of Finance, including the Directorate General of Customs.

Tabib has been targeted as a result of his work to tackle corruption; he has received death threats and his car was ransacked earlier this month. He has called on authorities to do more to prevent people being targeted for their anti-corruption work.

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