Algeria’s Disgraced Ex-Tycoon Khalifa Extradited Home from the UK
Former Algerian billionaire tycoon, Rafik Khalifa, has been extradited to his homeland after living in Britain for more than a decade. Once considered the “golden boy” of Algeria, the 47-year-old Khalifa rose from obscurity to build an empire including a bank, an airline and television stations, at one point employing an estimated 20,000 people in Algeria and Europe.
After Algeria’s Justice Ministry had repeatedly pressed Britain’s Home Office for his extradition, a Home Office spokeperson in the UK finally announced recently that “Khalifa was refused leave to appeal to the Supreme Court on December 3,” adding that he would be removed from British soil within 28 days of that date. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) subsequently rejected an appeal that would have suspended his extradition to his home country.
Rafik Khalifa, who took refuge in Britain in 2003, has been convicted of criminal involvement and fraud in Algeria and sentenced to life imprisonment by the country’s Supreme Court in 2007. His downfall began in 2002 when the operations of his Khalifa Bank were frozen over allegations of misconduct. A year later, the reputation of Khalifa’s business empire took another dent a year later, when his associates, who tried to smuggle out a briefcase containing 2 million euros, were arrested at Algiers airport.
Khalifa took refuge in Britain in 2003 when his business collapsed, costing the Algerian state and individual savers between 1.1 billion and 3.6 billion euros. He was arrested by the British authorities four years later following a French extradition request, and had remained in the country since then. French authorities still want to extradite Khalifa on fraud and embezzlement charges, but the Algerian request takes precedence. In meanwhile, the 47-year-old billionaire arrived at Algiers International Airport on Tuesday under escort. Algeria’s APS news agency said the extradition took place “in conformity with the legal proceedings and judicial agreement” between the two countries. Khalifa, who is the son of a former intelligence chief and minister, is not expected to go into an appeal hearing in his homeland.