Morocco: Former bank president gets 10 years in prison
The Casablanca Court of Appeal has sentenced in absentia former president of the Moroccan state owned bank "Crédit immobilier et hotelier" (CIH), Moulay Zine Zahidi, to 10 years in prison on charges of "public fund squandering and mismanagement." 13 other former officials got sentences ranging between 1 and 5 years in jail in the same case, and four were acquitted. Zahidi fled from Morocco and now resides in Portugal.
According to MAP, the case goes back to January 2001, when an inquiry parliamentary commission unveiled a series of embezzlements and irregularities in the bank's management. The illegal and indiscriminate lending brought the Bank close to collapse. CIH granted loans to over 50 Moroccan firms, most in the real estate and tourism sectors, which never repaid.
Since the case was surfaced, the Moroccan government has made significant progress toward the restructuring of the Crédit Immobilier et Hôtelier. These efforts were also hailed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Within this framework, CIH has announced a net profit of DH 247 million for the first half year 2006, compared to a loss of DH 735 million in the same period the previous year.