HomeFeatured NewsLooted funds and assets: Foreign Ministry breaks with traditional approach

Looted funds and assets: Foreign Ministry breaks with traditional approach

Although there are no official figures on the amount of Tunisian property and assets looted abroad, some estimates put the figure at $39 billion, although the value of the funds recovered remains very low.

In a recent publication, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized that the issue was one of its priorities, stressing the need to move away from the traditional approach and to stop reducing it to legal and judicial aspects.

In this context, Foreign Minister Nabil Ammar held a series of talks with Swiss officials during his visit to Switzerland in December last year on ways of achieving tangible progress in the recovery of looted funds.

According to the same source, in order to achieve the objectives assigned to the Special Committee of the Presidency of the Republic for the Recovery of Funds Looted Abroad, established by presidential decree on 22 October 2020, and as part of the exercise of its diplomatic role within the limits of its mandate, the Ministry has made intensive efforts to continue supporting the efforts of the competent state institutions and to supervise the monitoring of the file. This is by including, in particular, the issue of asset recovery among the main focuses of the talks held by Ministry officials with the foreign parties concerned.

In addition, at the meeting held at the Ministry’s headquarters on September 14, the rules of procedure and working methods of the Special Committee were approved, thus marking the effective start of its work.

39 billion dollars under the former regime

According to a report published by the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, the volume of smuggled funds under the former regime from 1987 to 2010 amounted to around $39 billion, or 88.1% of GDP in 2010.

The data in the report, based on international academic studies, show that the annual loss to the Tunisian economy at the time was $1.5 billion, compared with an average annual loss of $278 million under the regime in power in Tunisia between 1970 and 1987.

The same document points out that the smuggling of funds takes place both legally and illegally, since, in addition to the various legal transfers, there is a growing illegal smuggling of funds.

In August 2023, President Kaïs Saïed met with the Minister of State Property and Land Affairs and the Head of the State Prosecution Service to call for new trials against all those who had robbed the resources of the Tunisian people after January 14, 2011.

The length of the trial and the conditions, which are far from innocent for the states and banks where the looted funds are located, were discussed, as some would like to see an adversarial verdict against the accused, knowing with certainty that these fugitives are abroad.

The President of the Republic stressed that if the Tunisian people had recovered these funds, which is their right, and if they had pledged thousands of billions in bank accounts, property and personal assets, they would have avoided the current financial crisis.

The need for diplomatic action to go hand in hand with judicial action was also stressed, with these issues to be raised in the framework of international and regional organizations in order to unify the positions of the countries affected by the appropriation of their peoples’ wealth.


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