Tunisia: Doing Business in Troubled Times

A film by Arnaud Muller, Pierre-Emmanuel Luneau Daurignac, Pierre Toury and Martin Boudot
First broadcast March 19, 2011 on France 2

Tunisia ruled by President Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabelsi, was a corrupt and repressive regime. The various clans at the centre of power greatly enriched their assets, now estimated to be worth at least $5 billion. This fortune was acquired through extortion, racketeering, threats; any means were good to take hold of the Tunisian economy.
The film looks at how big French companies had to deal with the vast network of the President and his wife’s family in order to enter the Tunisian market. How did these companies actually work in Tunisia? Last summer, Belgaïed Mehdi, aged 23, the fiancé of Ben Ali’s daughter became the majority shareholder of Peugeot car manufacturer in Tunisia. He managed to thanks to a financial plan designed by the presidential palace. Mehdi had to leave Tunisia with the former president after the revolution in 2011. Imed Trabelsi, the nephew of the president’s wife, acquired shares in the Bricorama franchise by excluding one of his former associates. He is currently in jail with about thirty other members of his family in a high security prison. And how do the large French companies themselves justify such dealings?
An investigative report from Tunisia and France on the different clans’ grip on the economy.