Egypt president appoints top auditor, HRW slams incrimination of former

Tuesday 09-08-2016 10:45 PM

CAO Head Hisham Badawi - Ahram photo

CAIRO, Aug 9 (Aswat Masriya) - Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi appointed Hisham Badawi as the new chief corruption auditor on Tuesday, almost two weeks after the former chief received a one-year suspended prison sentence for spreading false news.

The presidential decree appointing Badawi as head of the Central Auditing Agency (CAO) was published in the state's official newspaper on Tuesday.

Egypt’s House of Representatives had approved on Jun. 12 Badawi's appointment to replace Geneina as the new head of the CAO.

On July, 28, Geneina was sentenced to one year in prison and fined EGP 20,000 for making false allegations about massive government corruption.

Geneina was quoted by certain Egyptian media services that the size of governmental corruption during the period between 2012 and 2015 amounted to EGP 600 billion. He based his statements on findings of a detailed study conducted by the CAO.

The prosecution then leveled charges against Geneina after a fact-finding committee formed by Sisi arrived to the conclusion that the CAO study in question was "inaccurate", "exaggerated" and lacked "credibility".

Shortly after the charges were made, Sisi dismissed Geneina and delegated Badawi to run the CAO's operations.  

The charges against Geneina "violate international human rights laws that protect free speech", Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement on Tuesday.

HRW further called on Egyptian prosecutors to drop the case against Geneina, saying that it harms efforts to combat corruption. 

Citing various studies by economic researchers, HRW added that Egyptian government corruption is widespread and was one of the main drivers of the 2011 uprising.

The CAO is an independent legal entity that monitors financial institutions and government bodies and falls directly under the jurisdiction of the presidency.

Until last year the head of CAO and other entities with the same legal status and immunity could not be dismissed, according to the Egyptian constitution.

However, in July 2015, Sisi issued a law in the absence of the parliament allowing the president of Egypt to dismiss the heads of the state's regulatory and auditing agencies including CAO and the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE).

"If Sisi is serious about fighting corruption within Egypt, as he has said time and again, he should empower the regulatory agencies charged with investigating graft instead of single-handedly weakening the autonomy they depend on," Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director said.  

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