Administrative hassles, bureaucratic blockages, political pressure, hearings with judges and prosecutors or hearings in the courts… it is an understatement to say that for five years, Nabil Mellah, the general manager of the first private laboratory MERINAL ( 1,000 employees and 114 million euros in turnover), was not spared.
But he didn’t expect to find himself behind them bars for violation of exchange control regulations and money laundering. At the end of July 2022, Nabil Mellah is completing his fourteenth month in El Harrach prison, in the suburbs of Algiers. The prospect of leaving this penitentiary receded during his trial on May 24, when the prosecutor requested seven years in prison against the entrepreneur who celebrated his 50th birthday in his cell.
From the memory of lawyers, rarely has a trial been conducted in such a surreal way, as the elements of the file pleaded for a dismissal of the case, or a dismissal. Especially since the prosecutor, a rarity in the legal annals, took the floor again after the lawyers’ pleadings to support his indictment. How an international tender does he have led to a legal case which, according to the defense lawyers, resembles a cabal and a manifest miscarriage of justice?
Algiers wants to boost its pharmaceutical industry
In June 2015, the Central Hospital Pharmacy (PCH) launched a call for tenders for the supply of pharmaceutical products, including immunosuppressants – used to prevent organ transplant rejection and treat autoimmune diseases. MERINAL bids for the market through its sister company Vapropharm, which specializes in the import and distribution of pharmaceutical products and medical devices.
The contract for the supply of 60,000 boxes of immunosuppressants for a renewable period of three years was finally awarded to Mylan, an American generics laboratory. This one had bid for 9.1 euros per unit, against 15.50 euros pour Vapropharm.