If there is one name that Tunisian entrepreneur were afraid of, it was not Ben Ali from the president but more the one of his wife. Trabelssi family was indeed corrupting the private sector and asking a part of their benefits. Every entrepreneur knew that it was better to keep the revenue low so that they were not noticed by the president wife Trabelssi and so don’t have to share their benefits. For this reason, some companies like McDonald refused to enter the Tunisian market and thus the first McDonald opened in 2012 after the revolution.
According to a recent report from the World Bank, almost one quarter of the benefits from the private sector were transferred to Ben Ali/Trabelssi clan through regulations to protect their own companies from competition and corruption. The Institution reports that business regulations were designed to be favorable to the family and its allies. He is now accused having embezzled between 15 and 50 billions dollars during its 23 years at the power. During this period, the business regulation texts have been modified 25 five times in order to maintain a sort of protectionism on his family. The World Bank has analyzed the compatibility of 220 companies controlled by Ben Ali and has pointed out that they got systematically 6-7% more on the market.
According to Bob Rijkers, one of the author of the report, the industrialization policy of the government, that was praised by international community was just a smokescreen destined to improve and adapt the family interest to new competitors and foreign investments. World Bank and International Monetary Fund were some on the International Institutions to praise Tunisia for its growth rate and erected it as a model for North African countries, regardless of the level of corruption. Due to recent events, it seems that corruption should not be ignored for economic interests and that it should be considered in order to assess the economic health of a country.
As a reminders, about 550 real estate, 48 yachts, 367 bank accounts and more than 400 companies that used to belong to Ben Ali/Trabelssi family have been recovered since 2011 by the new Tunisian Justice.