People’s National Assembly: Adoption of the draft law on fighting illegal speculation

Deputies of People’s National Assembly (PNA) adopted, on Wednesday by a majority, the draft law on the fight against illegal speculation.

The vote took place during a plenary session chaired by the President of the APN, Brahim Boughali, in the presence of the Minister of Justice, Abderrachid Tabi and the Minister of Relations with Parliament, Basma Azouar.

The proposal to allow provincial associations, like national ones, to act as civil parties before the courts in cases relating to the crimes provided for in Article 9 of the law in question was accepted.

Article 7 of the aforementioned law was amended by adding to paragraph 1 the measure of withdrawal of the professional card and administrative authorizations of non-trading actors.

Speculation is defined in the text as “any stockpiling or concealment of goods or commodities with the aim of creating a shortage in the market or disruption in supply”. It is also “any artificial increase or decrease in the price of goods, commodities or securities directly or indirectly, through an intermediary, by electronic means or any other means of fraud”.

The law also defines speculation as ‘the deliberate dissemination of false and misleading information with the aim of creating market disturbances and increasing prices suddenly without any justification’.

It is also the procurement, individually or collectively or on the basis of agreements, of a profit not derived from the natural application of supply and demand.

It defines the mechanisms for combating illegal speculation aimed at “guaranteeing market balance and preserving price stability”, without omitting the role of local authorities in the fight against “this scourge” as well as the association of civil society and the media in raising awareness of the promotion of a consumer culture.

This text allows the Public Prosecutor’s Office to automatically initiate public proceedings for these crimes. It also allows associations active in the field of consumer protection or any other person who has suffered damage to lodge a complaint with the courts and to act as a civil party in cases relating to these crimes.

In order to allow the judicial police during the preliminary investigation to collect evidence, the text of the law authorises the prolongation, twice, of the duration of police custody with prior written authorisation of the competent public prosecutor, as well as the search at any time with written authorisation.

As regards the penal provisions of this law, it provides for imprisonment and fines according to a logical ascending scale of penalties. If the offence concerns basic products such as cereals and their derivatives, milk, oil, sugar and pulses, the penalty can be up to 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 10 million DA. This sentence could be increased to 30 years’ imprisonment with a fine of DA 20 million if the crime is committed in exceptional circumstances or in the context of the spread of an epidemic or a disaster.

This sentence could be increased to life imprisonment if the crime is committed by an organised criminal group.

The draft also provides for the confiscation of the premises where the offence has been committed, as well as the means used and the funds collected, along with removal from the trade register, a ban on carrying out commercial activities, and the closure of the premises with a ban on its operation for up to one year.

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