Moroccan Historian Maati Monjib ‘Suspect’ in Money Laundering Investigation

Photo credit: Maati Monjib

Moroccan historian and journalist Maati Monjib and some of his family members are currently facing a preliminary investigation into money laundering allegations.

The public prosecutor at the Court of First Instance in Rabat announced the investigation in a press release today.

Morocco’s public prosecution launched the inquiry after receiving reports from the Financial Information Processing Unit that indicate Maati Monjib and his family’s possible involvement in money laundering crimes.

The Financial Information Processing Unit, affiliated to the Head of Government Office, is an intelligence agency that targets money laundering and terrorism financing.

The institution shared a list of large financial transfers and several real estate purchases that aroused suspicions because their value does not match the declared revenue of Maati Monjib and his family members.

The sharing of information with Morocco’s public prosecution is in line with Article 18 of Law 43-05, relating to the fight against money laundering.

“As soon as information collected by the Unit highlights facts that are likely to constitute a money laundering offense, it refers them to the public prosecutor at the Court of First Instance in Rabat,” the legal text states.

Correspondence between the Financial Information Processing Unit and public prosecution represents a regular task aimed at supporting Morocco’s constitutional and international obligations on fighting money laundering, today’s press release said.

The ongoing investigation aims to determine the source and nature of the suspicious financial transactions and real estate purchases, as well as any links they might have with criminal activity.

Maati Monjib’s response

Soon after the public prosecutor at the Court of First Instance in Rabat issued the statement, Maati Monjib posted a reaction on Facebook.

He claimed that the money laundering accusations are not new and that Morocco began investigating the alleged crimes in 2015.

He also said that the charges against him are “purely political” and come to “weaken [his] position before national and international public opinion.”

“If not, how can I be under investigation for five years and my prosecution did not begin yet, despite 20 hearing sessions,” Monjib wrote.

Explaining the timing of today’s press release, the Moroccan historian claimed that it coincides with his recent public statements on “the oppression of journalists by Moroccan authorities.”

“I assure the public opinion, again, that I am innocent,” he concluded.

Controversial precedents

In recent years, Maati Monjib has featured in a series of controversies.

In 2015, the Moroccan historian went on a hunger strike after Morocco issued a travel ban against him.

Moroccan authorities issued the ban to investigate “financial violations” that took place while Monjib headed the Ibn Rochd Communication Institute.

Monjib’s hunger strike lasted for 20 days before Morocco lifted the travel ban.

In 2017, Maati Monjib was also subject to investigation and came before the  court on charges of threatening state security and receiving foreign funds.

More recently, in 2019, the Moroccan historian went on a hunger strike after the Institute of African Studies where he teaches threatened to fire him.

Monjib claimed that the institute, affiliated to the Mohammed V University in Rabat, wanted to dismiss him because of his support for the freedom of press and his criticism of Moroccan authorities.

The Institute of African Studies, however, said the reason they considered dismissing Monjib is his frequent absenteeism.