Tuesday,21 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1306, (4 - 10 August 2016)
Tuesday,21 August, 2018
Issue 1306, (4 - 10 August 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Jailed for corruption falsehoods

The former head of the Central Auditing Agency was sentenced to one year in prison for spreading false information about corruption, reports Mohamed Abdel-Baky

Al-Ahram Weekly

On Thursday 28 July the New Cairo Court of Misdemeanours sentenced the former top auditor Hisham Geneina to one year in jail and a LE20,000 fine for spreading false information about alleged corruption in the public sector. The court also set LE10,000 bail pending an appeal.

Geneina’s lawyer appealed to the New Cairo Court of Appeals which will hold its first session on 8 September.

Geneina, the former head of the Central Auditing Agency (CAA), was charged with “spreading false information to disturb public order” following a report he issued which claimed that theft by public officials since 2012 had cost the country’s treasury LE600 billion.

“The verdict has many legal loopholes including the judge declining to hear the defendant’s defence and also ignoring our request to allow the prosecutor to provide the court with the CAA’s reports on corruption during the last five years,” Geneina’s lawyer Ali Taha said.

Taha said that one year was the maximum sentence for charges concerning the spreading of false information and that in the appeal, Geneina may be given a lighter sentence or cleared of the charges.

In January, Egypt’s prosecutor-general issued a gag order on the publishing of details of Geneina’s report.

In March, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi dismissed Geneina and appointed his deputy, Hisham Badawi, acting head of the CAA. Shortly after, parliament confirmed Badawi as the new top auditor.

Geneina’s dismissal was followed by a fact-finding committee ordered by Al-Sisi to look into the accuracy of his claims.

The committee later issued a report that accused Geneina of “inflating figures and deliberately tarnishing the image of the state”. The committee said that Geneina’s claims were “misleading, exaggerated and lacked credibility”.

“Geneina initially claimed his figures about corruption covered the period from 2012 to 2015,” the committee said. “But what we discovered is that his statements covered more than a decade.”

The committee concluded that Geneina’s announcement created an “atmosphere of mistrust among citizens in their public sector”.   

Following the release of the report Geneina stood his ground, insisting that he could provide documentary support for all his claims.

“He was misquoted by the newspaper that interviewed him, and we will prove that,” Taha said. 

On 2 June state security prosecutors charged that Geneina had exaggerated the money lost to corruption by including violations that took place prior to 2012 in his reports, and that he had abused his position as head auditor in gathering documents to make his case.

Geneina has maintained that his estimation of government losses from corruption referred to the three years after 2012. He said he did not mean that the LE600 billion was in 2015 alone.

This is not the first verdict against the former top auditor. In October 2014 the Cairo Court of Misdemeanours fined Geneina LE15,000 on libel charges. The court said that Geneina insulted members of the Judges Club.

In April this year, the Cairo Southern Misdemeanour issued another verdict charging Geneina with insulting former minister of justice Adel Abdel-Hamid. The court fined Geneina LE100,000.

Al-Sisi has made fighting corruption a priority as Prime Minister Sherif Ismail’s government struggles to rebuild an economy battered by political turmoil since the 2011 Revolution that deposed Hosni Mubarak as president.

Over the last month the general prosecutor has referred several government officials to be tried for alleged corruption in local wheat procurement. Parliament formed a fact-finding committee to investigate wheat corruption which it said had reached LE1.2 billion.

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