The son of an Algerian government minister allied to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been placed under criminal investigation over money-laundering allegations, a local newspaper reported on Monday.
The investigation, which has not been officially confirmed, follows a series of criminal cases against senior Algerian officials, some of whom have ties to Bouteflika.
Algeria's El Watan newspaper, quoting unnamed sources close to the case, said that justice officials were investigating an allegation that the son of Justice Minister Tayeb Belaiz was involved in laundering drug money. The paper did not make clear whether the allegation applied to current or past activity.
Contacted by Reuters, a spokeswoman for the Justice Ministry, which oversees judicial investigations, did not comment on the published report.
Representatives of the minister's son, who was not named in the newspaper report, could not be reached for comment.
It was not clear if Belaiz's son was in police custody.
Algerian authorities have already launched corruption investigations into top executives at state energy firm Sonatrach and senior officials at the Ministry of Public Works.
Sonatrach was controlled by close allies of the Algerian president before most of the senior executives were fired and replaced by politically-neutral technocrats.
The public works ministry is still run by allies of the president since the minister has not been changed, although some senior ministry officials have been sacked and placed under investigation.
Justice Minister Belaiz is also seen as a Bouteflika associate. His job is one of a handful of portfolios appointed directly by the president rather than by the prime minister.
Bouteflika's officials say he approved investigations into corruption in state-run institutions because he is determined to crack down on graft.
But a former Algerian prime minister told Reuters he believed the investigations were part of a political turf war between Bouteflika's supporters and a rival faction inside the ruling elite.
El Watan said the justice minister's son was being investigated based on information from a drug trafficker who had been arrested in the western city of Oran. The newspaper made no allegations of wrongdoing by the minister himself.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 19 Temmuz 2010, 16:35