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Tunisian government to audit debts

Investigation to find if loans were stolen and taken out of country.

Tunisian flag Photo: Artem Nezvigin Flikr

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki has announced his government plans to audit debts it owes, with the intention of discovering if any loans were corruptly used by the Ben Ali regime, and taken out of the country into secrecy jurisdictions.  President Marzouki has indicated that whilst the government intends to honour financial commitments made by the Ben Ali regime, if it does find loans that were given to benefit the Ben Ali regime personally, it will seek to declare them illegitimate and not payable. The audit forms part of the Tunisian government’s efforts to recover stolen money from secrecy jurisdictions across the world. It has been reported that Belgium has agreed to cancel any debts found to be illegitimate.

The Tunisian government’s external debt is $14.6 billion; 33 per cent of GDP. In 2010, 15 per cent of government revenue was spent on foreign debt payments.

Separately from the audit announcement, President Marzouki has asked foreign governments holding Tunisian debt to conduct debt swaps, so that money is used for development projects in the country rather than being repaid. Germany has agreed to reinvest €50 million of Tunisian debt repayments in rural water projects.  Marzouki has also discussed debt swaps with French President Francois Hollande.  Tunisia does not owe any debt to the UK government.

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