Tunisia has begun selling the personal assets of deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and other former regime officials, including luxury and performance cars, to boost its struggling economy.After decades under a regime that amassed wealth for itself and a revolution that hurt the tourism industry, Tunisia is hoping to fund social projects with the money it raises, Bloomberg reported.
The assets of Ben Ali, his wife Leile Trabelsi, and those of 112 others associated with the regime, were seized in March 2011.
Those assets, including cars, yachts, fine art, jewelry, and even palaces, are estimated to be worth $12 billion, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Among the vehicles on sale are a Maybach town car that once belonged to Ben Ali, a BMW V12 owned by a Trabelsi family member, and a black Aston Martin that came with a plaque reading: “Handbuilt in England for Sakher El Materi” (Ben Ali’s son-in-law).
A video from The Telegraph showed a Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Mercedes-Benz for sale as well.
According to Mohamed Hamaied, a finance ministry official who took potential buyers for a spin in the powerful BMW, most of the cars have hardly been driven.
“These cars didn’t roll much – just between La Marsa and Hammamet,” two beachside towns, he told the Christian Science Monitor. The BMW had just 1,200 miles on the odometer.
The sale is expected to last at least a month, and officials hope it will generate $13 million.
Social Affairs Minister Khalil Elzawiah emphasised the message the new government is sending by selling the seized assets: “To be clear it’s not an oil well. The most important thing is not the financial return but the path of the revolution,” he said, reported the Telegraph.
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