Abdelmoumen Rafik Khalifa
Creator of the El Khalifa Group
Date of Birth: 10/10/1966
Place of Birth: Bejaia
Commentary: Rafik has been sentenced to life imprisonment by judge Fatiha Brihimi, after his bank, TV station and airline all crashed financially, and the El Khalifa Bank was found to have defrauded over a million depositors and collapsed with debts of more than US$1.5 billion in 2003. He is due to be extradited from the UK to Algeria in April 2011.
Many neutrals question how Khalifa could have risen so high without patronage
from the top - commanded now, as during Khalifa's prime, by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
and his circle of close aides. Khalifa's business success was
unprecedented in an economy still dominated by state structures and
conservative economics. Khalifa Airways effectively replaced the
state's Air Algérie as domestic carrier before crashing in
financial flames. Khalifa TV crashed too, after El Khalifa Bank was
found to have defrauded over 1,000,000 depositors.
At his peak, 'Golden Boy' sponsored the French football club Olympique de Marseille FC
(itself then a fallen giant) and enjoyed many powerful and glitzy
friends; among those cited in court were senior Algerian technocrats
and French stars Gérard Depardieu and Cathérine Deneuve.
Not bad for a man of 40 who emerged from the suburban family pharmacy
to become the first real oligarch of Algeria's post-socialist economy.
Many Algerians pointed out that his pharmacist father was a senior
member of the Independence war military security, beside luminaries
such as Interior Minister Noureddine 'Yazid' Zerhouni and the late Kasdi Merbah. Many believe Khalifa must have been protected by members of the Bouteflika family or the President's then Chief-of-Staff, Larbi Belkheir (now Ambassador to Morocco).