By Hassan Jibril
An Algerian court has ordered the arrest of billionaire Issad Rebrab, the country’s richest man, on corruption charges, according to the state television.
The Sidi Mohamed Magistrate Court in central Algiers ruled late on Monday that Rebrab be put in provisional custody.
Rebrab, owner of Algeria’s Cevital Group, was put in jail for allegations that he “made false statements, imported sub-standard equipment, and was exempted from paying custom fees”.
The state television did not say how long Rebrab would stay in prison, but videos circulated on social media showed the arrival of a national gendarmerie vehicle to the Harrach prison east of the capital with the business tycoon on board.
Known as Algeria’s richest man, Rebrab is currently worth some $3.8 billion, Forbes magazine reported in January.
Late last month, Ali Haddad, another prominent Algerian businessman, was similarly detained on corruption charges.
Haddad is a former head of Algeria’s Business Leaders Forum, which is composed largely of business people close to recently-resigned President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
The arrest came only days after Ahmed Gaid Saleh, Algeria’s military chief-of-staff, pledged to crack down on government corruption.
Last week, Algerians demonstrated in Algiers -- for the ninth week in a row -- to demand investigations into all Bouteflika-era corruption cases.
The 82-year-old Bouteflika stepped down early this following weeks of popular protests against his rule.
* Writing by Ali Abo Rezeg