The Tunisian President, Kais Saied, plans to propose revisions to the Basic Law of the Central Bank and the legislation governing the banking industry.
These amendments are part of the "war of national liberation," a campaign to hold everyone accountable without exception.
These regulations have penetrated the inner sanctum of the "elite" skilled at generating revenue at the state's expense and have been exempt from any consequences. Recent events have been likened to an earthquake, as they have undoubtedly shaken the foundations of the country's financial and business sectors.
Unprecedented developments have impacted these sectors since the end of July. These include travel bans and arrests against businessmen, such as Hassine Doghri, one of the most important shareholders in the capital of the Union Bancaire pour le commerce et l’industrie (UBCI) (39%), on charges of money laundering.
Other arrestees include bankers, most notably Ahmed Rjiba, the former chairman and general manager of the state-controlled Banque de l'habitat, who’s implicated in a complex case of misconduct, mismanagement and granting loans without adequate guarantees.
Rjiba – nicknamed a “friend of governments” – maintained his position for years. He stood firm despite serious revelations in the report of the Court of Auditors, the most important and credible regulatory body in Tunisia, about his tenure at the Banque de l’habitat (2013-2019).
He was even appointed chairman and general manager of a private bank before he was dismissed at the end of June 2021.
Corruption in the spotlight
Public debates have heated up once again regarding “financial scandals, corruption, and banks’ hegemony” due to the high ranks of those arrested who are still being treated as innocent until proven guilty.
This is especially relevant considering Saied’s recent field visits to the Central Bank and public banks, and his hints towards approving amendments that would include the Central Bank.
By July 2023, the banking system became the largest domestic lender of the state (more than DT 20bn, or about $6bn).
It’s becoming clear that Saied’s rule will end impunity for those he describes as “cartels”. This has reassured many Tunisians who have grown disillusioned by banking policies.