Friday,14 December, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1358, (24 August - 6 September 2017)
Friday,14 December, 2018
Issue 1358, (24 August - 6 September 2017)

Ahram Weekly

More MB assets frozen

Assets of a chain of bookstores and IT shops were frozen on allegations of being linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, reports Safiya Mounir

 

More MB assets frozen
More MB assets frozen

A government committee in charge of seizing the funds of members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood froze the assets of more than 20 MB companies this week.

The move comes following a court decision in January to include the names of entities or their owners on the government’s terrorist list which includes 1,500 individuals and companies with alleged affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood was designated a terrorist organisation by the Egyptian government in November 2013.

When the committee puts an individual or company on the list it calls on the Central Bank and the General Investment Authority to freeze all their liquid, transferrable and real estate assets. The committee appraises their assets, then assigns a state body to manage them.

Among the companies the committee decided to freeze their assets on Sunday is Delta Rs which owns the franchises of Radio Shack, Mobile Shop, Computer Shop and CompuMe, all of which sell high-tech products.

In addition, the committee put the Arab International Company for Commercial Agencies (AICAC) the owner of Alef bookstores, as well as the company owning and managing Al-Borsa, a financial daily and Daily News, a daily English publication, under the supervision of Akhbar Al-Youm for investment, an affiliate of Akhbar Al-Youm publishing house.

The committee also seized the assets of the children of the Brotherhood’s spiritual leader Sheikh Youssef Al-Qaradawi.

While members of the committee declined to talk to Al-Ahram Weekly, an anonymous source close to it told the daily Al-Shorouk that through coordination with state bodies, the committee’s assessment of most of the MB assets has been completed, including that of individuals, schools, companies, hospitals, publishing houses and charities. The overall value of such assets, according to the source, exceeds LE30 billion. The source said the value of assets of 105 schools believed to be funded by MB members, including the well-known Al-Bashayer and Nile International schools, amount to LE3.5 billion.

According to Mohamed Hamouda, the lawyer of a number of alleged MB members including Safwan Thabet, founder and chairman of the local juice and dairy producer Juhayna, and AICAC, the accusation of belonging to the banned group are reviewed every three years after which the case is re-assessed. The individual or company might be removed from the terrorist list and the assets retaken. If the person or entity are again deemed to be affiliated with the group the verdict can be challenged in the courts.

A statement issued by AICAC, the owner and manager of Alef Bookstores’ 37 branches, noted that according to the committee’s decision to freeze assets,  financial and administrative inspectors were appointed to oversee the company’s managerial and financial performance but that this does not allow confiscation or nationalisation of any of the company’s assets, as reported by some media outlets.

Hamouda told the Weekly that accusations of belonging to the banned group are sometimes based on wrong investigation or because a person might belong to a family which has members in the group.

The committee was formed in 2014 as a part of the Egyptian government’s crackdown on the Brotherhood after Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was toppled in June 2013.

The committee in 2014 seized Zad chain of supermarkets owned by the Brotherhood’s leading member Khairat Al-Shater, as well as the Seoudi chain owned by Abdel-Rahman Al-Seoudi.

In May 2015, assets of former national football star Mohamed Abu Treika were confiscated amid allegations that he used to fund the banned group. 

In May 2017, the committee confiscated the funds of 11 members of the family of leading Brotherhood figure and businessman Hassan Malek, including the funds of his five children.

Economy expert Hani Tawfik said the recurrent seizures of assets of businessmen and companies do not affect investment as the country is in a war against terrorism and thus needs extraordinary procedures. “Such procedures are applied only to individuals who are proven to have links to the MB according to the investigations.”

Furthermore, the size of these companies is negligible compared to the country’s GDP and thus won’t affect the economy at large, according to Tawfik.

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