Under trial for corruption, former Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia has admitted receiving gold bars from “Gulf leaders” and selling them in the black market.
Arrested in June 2019, Ouyahia is under an anti-corruption investigation for the illegal financing of the 2019 election campaign of former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, among other cases.
The Court of Algiers has already sentenced Ouyahia to 15 years in prison. However, investigations are still ongoing as the former PM was involved in many separate cases of corruption.
Ahmed Ouyahia took part in a hearing session last weekend to explain the origin of the exorbitant sums he had in his bank accounts.
During the session, Ouyahia admitted that he had gained DZD 350 million ($2.6 million) through selling gold bars in the black market. He explained that he received the gold “as a gift, in his capacity as prime minister, from leaders of Gulf countries,” according to Algeria’s state media.
The former politician only admitted to receiving “the presents” last weekend because he was previously afraid of hampering relations between Algeria and Gulf states, the report added.
Ouyahia claimed that he attempted to sell the gold bars to the Bank of Algeria but the central bank refused. He did not, however, specify the reason why the financial institution refused to purchase the gold from him.
The former PM then recurred to sell the gold bars in the black market and transfer their value to three of his accounts, he admitted.
Gifts that state leaders present during their official visits to other countries usually go to the receiving state itself rather than select individuals.
Ouyahia’s confession, however, proves the systemic corruption that has endured in Algeria for several decades, especially considering how long the former politician served as prime minister.
Ahmed Ouyahia held the highest position within the Algerian government for four separate terms: 1995-1998, 2004-2006, 2008-2012, and 2017-2019.
Proving Ouyahia’s ill-intent was the fact he did not make any fiscal declarations regarding the sold gold bars.
When the judge asked for an explanation during last weekend’s hearing session, the former PM said he did not get the chance to make the declarations because he was undergoing treatment since 2017.
However, the several public appearances that Ouyahia made between 2017 and 2019 clearly contradict his claims.
The corruption case that Algerian authorities are currently investigating involves several ex-officials, including former Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal and three former ministers of industry.