Authorities in Tunisia on Wednesday announced they have frozen the assets of football club magnate and former presidential hopeful Slim Riahi on suspicions of money laundering.
An investigating judge imposed the restriction on all of Riahi’s shares on the stock market, bank accounts and property, said prosecution spokesman Sofiene Sliti.
The announcement comes after the government launched what Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has called a “war” on graft from which he said nobody involved in corruption would emerge unscathed.
Corruption was widespread in Tunisia under longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was ousted in the 2011 uprising that spawned the Arab Spring, but it remains endemic.
Riahi was quick to respond to Wednesday’s allegations, telling the private Nessma TV channel he was a victim of “political blackmail” and that the anti-graft drive was selective.
Without naming them, Riahi accused certain parties of being behind the move aimed at getting rid of him and denounced “defamation… by some media working for the government”.
The businessman has a nebulous past, with the origin of his fortune unclear, although he reportedly has links to the family of late Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
Riahi is the president of the Free Patriotic Union (UPL) political party which came third in the 2014 parliamentary election.
He ran for president in the same year and is also the owner of Club Africain, one of the two biggest football clubs in Tunisia which won this year’s domestic cup competition.
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