Europol to Help Algeria Recover Looted Funds
The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, revealed, in a blog, the content of the talks that brought him together with Algerian officials during his visit to Algeria last week, especially cooperation between the two sides to recover looted funds and to initiate a high-level dialogue on security issues.
The European diplomat indicated, in a document published on the EU’s website, that in the field of judicial and police cooperation, the ongoing negotiations will be accelerated to reach an agreement with the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust), and with the European police services “Europol”, significantly to help Algeria recover the funds looted in the past years and illegally transferred abroad, within the framework of the country’s ongoing anti-corruption measures.
Borrell’s detail of Europol’s cooperation in the field of money recovery comes in the context of Algeria’s continued efforts to recover looted funds and assets of the country, with its announcement of coordination with its European counterpart, to enhance their judicial and criminal cooperation to address files of money smuggling abroad.
During his meeting with the General Secretary of the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amar Belani, the president of Eurojust, Ladislav Hamran, expressed his authority’s readiness and commitment to providing all forms of support and necessary technical assistance to the Algerian judicial authorities in the field of investigations and facilitating communication with their European counterparts.
Eurojust announced on March 15 that it is willing and committed to providing Algeria assistance to deal with files for the recovery of looted funds and assets abroad.
The statement was made during a visit made by the President of Eurojust, Ladislav Hamran, to Algiers, during which he met with the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Community Abroad, Ammar Blani, according to a statement issued by the ministry.
The statement added that “The Secretary-General of the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs received the European official and discussed cooperation in recovering funds and property that was smuggled in the past.”
Algeria aims to benefit from the agency’s extensive experience in the field of freezing, confiscating and recovering funds and assets transferred abroad through illegal means, and before that Borrell pledged that the European Union “will redouble its efforts in cooperation with Algeria to recover looted funds abroad.”
President Tebboune had revealed in December 2022 that $20 billion worth of looted funds had been recovered, and the Algerian authorities also announced, during 2021, the seizure of property estimated at $850 million, within the framework of corruption investigations it opened with several former officials.
Borrell said previously that the EU conducted an agreement with Algeria to launch a high-level dialogue on security issues, and the first meetings in this regard will be held at the end of 2023. He added that he had discussions with President Tebboune on the file of clandestine migration from the African Sahel countries to Europe, and that “the European Union is concerned about the growth of terrorism in the Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea, explaining they are afraid of the growing penetration of the Russian Wagner militias in the region”, according to Borrell’s office.
Before that, Borrell confirmed that the resumption of a high-level security dialogue “proves that Algeria is a reliable partner and a key player in counterterrorism in our common neighbourhood.” Borrell praised “Algeria’s rich history in counterterrorism,” calling for a “global vision and strategy to address the risks, especially in the Sahel region”.
It should be noted that Algeria and the European Union agreed, years ago, to create a mechanism for strategic political and security dialogue to counterterrorism.
There is no official estimate of the amount of money smuggled during the reign of the late Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who came to power in 1999 and resigned in 2019 under the pressure of popular anti-government protests “Hirak” that erupted in February of the same year. However, the Algerian presidential candidate in the 2019 elections, Abdelkader Bengrina, said in previous statements that over $100 billion had been smuggled out of the country.