Kamel Ayadi and the Continuous Training Business

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In our previous investigation, we explained how the Karoui brothers have been using a complex legal business scheme in several countries to minimize the taxes they owed to the State.

The investigation we are publishing today reveals a much simpler network used by Kamel Ayadi, the current Minister of Good Governance and the Fight against Corruption, to receive public money to his account.

In 2007, Kamel Ayadi, then a member of the House of Councillors, received approval from the Tunisian government to open a representative office of the World Federation of Engineering Organizations in Tunisia (WFEO)[1]. Since then he has created several associations of which he is also the president. In 2011, he announced the creation of "The Center for Strategic Thinking on the Development of the Tunisian Northwest" with Chedly Ayari, the current governor of the Central Bank of Tunisia. At the beginning of the following year, a statement in the Official Journal of the Tunisian Republic announced the creation of an association named "Engineers without Borders". In 2013, he founded an association called "International Centre for the Fight against Corruption in the MENA region," which purports to be a subsidiary of the Global Infrastructure Anti-Corruption Centre (GIACC) in London. These four organizations are registered at 45 Rue du Japon, Apartment B22 - Montplaisir, Tunis.

In addition to these four associations, which Kamel Ayadi has chaired since they were established in Tunisia, apartment B22 also houses the headquarters of a commercial company called "Global Leadership and Ethics Institute" (French acronym IMEL)[2], which was created in 2009 by Kamel Ayadi. Since 2011, his wife, Wasilla Hamouda, has also become a shareholder.

While the "International Centre for the Fight Against Corruption in the MENA Region", of which Ayadi’s wife Wassila Hamouda is Secretary General, purports to be an association concerned with the “design and dissemination of training programs, expertise studies and development in the field of integrity and ethics in the business sector”, the statutes of the company owned by the couple define its purpose as providing continuous intra- and inter-firm education services, and offering expertise and advisory services as well as handling seminar organization. These similarities between both organizations managed by the Ayadi couple and domiciled in the same office are currently the only clues to the relationships between them. Furthermore, we were surprised to see the logo of the Ayadi corporation on the main website banner of the Tunisian subsidiary of the nonprofit organization GIACC.

Is Kamel Ayadi currently using the image of the associative structure to attract funds to the company he owns with his wife? So far, our suspicions are based on public information found online on official sites such as The Official Journal of the Tunisian Republic, the commercial register and the official website of the Tunisian branch of the GIACC. The documents we obtained via whistleblowers provided further information on the finances of the different structures owned and managed by Kamel Ayadi prior to his appointment at Minister of Good Governance and the Fight against Corruption.

The most shocking document is "an order" addressed by Kamel Ayadi to a head of the Arab Institute of Business Managers (French acronym IACE) in which he confirms a purchase order for a coffee break to a seminar organized by the GIACC[3] and WFEO 20 October 2012. In the letter, the current Minister of Good Governance and the Fight against Corruption demands that this provision and the previous be documented in the name of his own company. This reinforces suspicions concerning the use of different structures managed by Kamel Ayadi for fraudulent practices. However, we cannot confirm the complicity of the Arab Institute of Business Managers (IACE) in these practices.

Another document containing the logos of the GIACC and the Global Leadership and Ethics Institute (IMEL) further reinforces our suspicions regarding the use of non-profit structures for commercial purposes. In fact, there is an entry form for companies wishing to participate in a training course entitled "Governance, Transparency, Integrity and Corruption" held on 22,23 and 24 October 2012. At the bottom of that page, we found, in addition to the training fees, two interesting entries. Again, Kamel Ayadi requests that the purchase order be passed under the name of his own company, the Global Leadership and Ethics Institute (IMEL). It is therefore clear that the Global Leadership and Ethics Institute (IMEL) not only covers the charges which amount to 975 DT, as was the case with the event organized in IACE, but also the benefits reaching 980 DT excluding tax per person. Furthermore, the cost of these trainings is supported by the government through the vocational training tax.

In addition to the public funds that Kamel Ayadi mobilized through the company whose capital he shares with his wife, the documents we have obtained show that it has raised funds from donors through the various associative structures that he manages to organize trainings and seminars.

In another document, entitled "Semi-Annual Report on the Project for the period of July to December 2012", we discover that the "trainings" organized on 22, 23 and 24 October 2012 were in fact workshops organized as part of a project that has received funding from the Embassy of the Netherlands in the framework of an agreement signed with the WFEO. The "training" organized in IACE on October 20th was also a seminar organized under the same project.

Similar practices seem to have occurred in the projects financed by the World Bank, the Foundation for the Future, the United Nations Development Program and other foreign organizations. Another document indicates that in 2010, while still a member of the House of Councillors, Kamel Ayadi had managed to receive public funds from the government and some public enterprises.

Recommendations :

  1. We call upon the Public Prosecutor to initiate legal proceedings regarding the various issues that we have identified ;
  2. We call upon the various organizations mentioned in the article, such as the WFEO and the GIACC, to launch internal investigations regarding the practices of their representative in Tunisia ;
  3. We call upon the Tunisian authorities to accelerate the adoption of legislation concerning illicit enrichment.

[1] Decree n°2007-1189 of the 14th of May 2007

[2] The word “Ethics” was added to the name of the company in 2011

[3] At that date, the GIACC had no legal representation in Tunisia. The announcement of the creation of the Tunisian branch of the London-based organization was published in the Official Journal of the Tunisian Republic on January 9th, 2014.