Algerian court gives verdict on East-West motorway corruption case

A court in the Algerian capital Algiers has sentenced two men to 10 years in jail for their part in a money laundering scheme relating to construction of the East West Motorway. Chani Mejdoub an adviser to a Chinese company, and Mohamed Khelladi, a former director of highways, were found guilty of money laundering, corruption and embezzlement of government funds, Algerian media reported. They were each fined nearly US$35,000. Another businessman, Adou Tadj Eddine, was handed a seven year sentence and
Finance & Funding / May 15, 2015
A court in the Algerian capital Algiers has sentenced two men to 10 years in jail for their part in a money laundering scheme relating to construction of the East West Motorway.

Chani Mejdoub an adviser to a Chinese company, and Mohamed Khelladi, a former director of highways, were found guilty of money laundering, corruption and embezzlement of government funds, Algerian media reported.

They were each fined nearly US$35,000. Another businessman, Adou Tadj Eddine, was handed a seven year sentence and also fined $35,000. In all, 14 people were jailed, including two former public works ministry workers who received seven years each for bribery and an ex-intelligence officer who was given a three years.

However, the court acquitted Bouchama Mohamed, former secretary general of the Minister of Public Works, on charges surrounding the case.

The court also found seven international firms -- Cojaal, Pizarroti, Citic Crcc Chine, Isolux Corsan, Coba, SMI and Caraventa -- guilty of being a part of the corruption scandal and each company was been ordered to pay around $55,000.

The East West Motorway is a 1,216km six-lane highway project to link towns and cities along the Mediterranean coast from the Moroccan border in the west to the Tunisian border in the east. Construction started in 2006 by a group of international firms and much of the road is now open. But the $13 billion project has been dogged by allegations of corruption and waste.

World Highways reported in October that the Ministry for Public Works announced that the Japanese firm Cojaal had lost its contract to construct the remaining 84km of the eastern section of the East-West highway. At the time, the company and the government were in discussion about compensation levels and a possible arbitration process.

Meanwhile, Public Works minister Abdelkader Kadi officially opened 2.8km of a 33km section of the motorway connecting Lakhdaria with Kadiria which is being renovated.

Contractor ETRHB completed the section ahead of time, while two other sections of 3km and 4km are set to be delivered by contractor Altro this month. All 33kkm will be finished by the end of the year.