A Judicial inquiry has opened into potentially criminal practices on the part of two of Tunisia’s most prominent businessmen, who respectively retain a controlling interest in Nessma TV and hold a key role in the leadership of the country’s governing party, Nidaa Tounes.
Brothers, Ghazi and Nabil Karoui are to be investigated for fraud and tax evasion, the government news agency, TAP have reported. Accusations of wrongdoing were originally leveled at at the two brothers by anti Corruption watchdog, I Watch in July. Responding, both brothers denied all allegations and insisted that the report authors be prosecuted for defamation.
At the time, IWatch alleged that the two brothers had used a series of internal loans between the five internatuonal companies that comprise the Nessma brand, which the NGO alleged had been used to avoid tax. IWatch also alleged that the brothers had established a shelf company in which to obscure some of the organization’s debt and money smuggling.
Ghazi and Nabil Karoui have established themselves as central pillars in Tunisian media and political circles, establishing the International Communications Group, Karoui & Karoui in 1996 and Nessma TV in 2007. However, Nabil Karoui resigned as President and CEO of Nessma in May 2016, allowing him to join the leadership of Nidaa Tounes.
However, a rift appeared in what had previously appeared to be cordial relations between Nabil Karoui and Hafedh Caid Essebsi, son of party founder and President of the Republic, Beji Caid Essebsi, when Karoui appeared upon MosaiqueFM to denounce Nidaa Tounes as essentially a “one man show.” Continuing his comments, Karoui accused the President’s son of acting as, head of government, the Minister of Interior, Foreign Affairs, Finance and National Education, eventually calling upon him to step away from the party, “with dignity.”