Reconciliation efforts underway in 35 cases involving Mubarak-era businessmen – minister

Tuesday 05-04-2016 11:10 AM

Hussein Salem - Photo from El- Shorouk

CAIRO, Apr 4 (Aswat Masriya) – Egypt's Illicit Gains Authority is currently looking into 35 corruption cases involving a number of Mubarak-era businessmen with the aim of establishing "reconciliation" deals, Justice Minister Hossam Abdel Rahim said Monday.

Egypt's authorities came into confrontation with a long history of corruption cases involving several Mubarak-era ministers and businessmen following the January 2011 uprising, which toppled Mubarak after 18 days of mass protest.

"Three cases have already been settled and the businessmen involved in them have paid their dues to the Illicit Gains Authority," Abdel Rahim added.

The designated authority is currently in negotiations regarding 35 other cases, where it is set to review those cases and determine the amount required to be settled. The initiative is allegedly based on the "genuine desire by the defendants to settle their liabilities and reconcile with the state," Abdel Rahim added.  

The businessmen whose cases are currently under negotiation were not identified by the justice minister.

In statements to Al-Ahram newspaper on Monday, Abdel Rahim said that the Illicit Gains Authority is about to reach a final settlement with Mubarak-era minister and business tycoon Hussein Salem. The agreement, according to the statements, requires that Salem pay EGP 5.8 billion and transfer up to 95 per cent of his assets to the state.

Salem's defence announced on Sunday that the businessman will give up his purchased island in Luxor as part of a reconciliation deal with the government.

Talks about a forthcoming settlement between Salem and the government had begun when former justice minister Ahmed al-Zend was in office in November.

Facing a list of graft charges, Salem was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison for exporting gas to Israel below market value. He was sentenced in absentia in several other cases for profiteering from his relation with Mubarak and the illegal acquisition of land in Luxor.

Based on the recent amendments to the illicit gains law, the criminal lawsuits filed against the businessmen in question will be dropped after the cabinet reviews the reconciliation files and gives its approval on them.

Introduced last year, the amendments to the illicit gains law made possible the attempts to reconcile with those accused of money laundering and embezzlement in exchange for them paying their liabilities to the state.

Egypt ranked 88 out of 168 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index 2015, with a score of 36 on a scale where 0 means highly corrupt and 100 means corruption-free. The 2015 score represents a slight deterioration from the year before when Egypt's score was 37.

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