Monday,24 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1390, (19 - 25 April 2018)
Monday,24 September, 2018
Issue 1390, (19 - 25 April 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Draining Brotherhood funds

MPs approve a new law closing legal loopholes that have hampered the sequestration of the assets of terrorist groups, reports Gamal Essam El-Din

 

In another blow to the Muslim Brotherhood, MPs this week approved a law authorising the relevant judicial committee to sequestrate the assets of the banned organisation and all affiliated movements.

The original title of the 18-article law — Regulating the Procedures of Sequestrating, Managing and Disposing of the Assets of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Affiliated Organisations — was amended during Monday’s parliamentary debate to “Regulating the Sequestration, Managing and Disposing of the Assets of Terrorist Organisations and Terrorists”.

“The change was necessary because the constitution stipulates laws must be issued to address general conditions rather than a particular case,” said Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Omar Marawan.

“The government wants to guarantee the law fully complies with the constitution and does not overlap with the 2013 law which designates terrorist organisations and the manner in which their assets can be liquidated.”

MPs praised the law, with several insisting the Brotherhood remains flush with money from Qatar and Turkey.

Free Egyptians Party MP Sami Ramadan said Qatar spent $8 billion on the Muslim Brotherhood while it was in power in Egypt between 2012 and 2013 and “is still spending generously on the group, helping it spread chaos in Egypt”.

He proposed “the money sequestrated be used to compensate the families of police officers and army personnel killed while fighting terrorists”.

“The Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist organisations still receive cash from Qatar, Turkey and from giant companies operating in Egypt, the Arab world, Europe and America,” claimed MP Ahmed Hamam.

“We hope this law will be a step in halting the flow of funds to terrorists and their mother organisations.”

Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee head Bahaaeddin Abu Shoka said the law fulfils Article 237 of the constitution which obliges the government to fight all forms of terrorism and track its sources of funding.

“The law reflects both a constitutional obligation and a pressing need,” said Abu Shoka. “Article 237 is clear in stipulating that the state mobilise to fight terrorism.”

“Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood was designated a terrorist organisation following terrorist attacks targeting buildings belonging to security forces in Cairo and Nile Delta cities in December 2013,” said a report prepared by the committee.

“Many of the group’s leaders and activists have been convicted of carrying out terrorist attacks. Under Cabinet Decree 1141/2013 a committee was formed, tasked with sequestrating, managing and disposing of the assets of the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliated terrorist groups and organisations. The nine-member committee comprised representatives of the ministries of justice, interior, finance, social solidarity and local development and representatives of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), National Security, the Financial Control Authority and the General Investment Authority.”

“The decree was issued after Cairo’s Court of Urgent Matters ruled the assets of the banned Muslim Brotherhood could be sequestrated.”

The report goes on to note that “as questions began to be raised about the legal status of the sequestration committee it became important that its regulation and procedures be codified in law.”

“It has been decided all nine members of the committee be drawn from judicial authorities rather than government ministries and state institutions. The new law also stipulates that appeals filed against the committee’s resolutions be lodged with the Cairo Court of Urgent Matters rather than with the State Council [administrative courts].”

MP Mustafa Bakri, the editor-in-chief of the weekly Al-Osbou, says the new law was necessary to end the constitutional and legal problems which had dogged the sequestration of the assets of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Recent administrative court rulings lifting the sequestration of assets owned by some Brotherhood leaders constituted a dangerous development,” said Bakri. “It was necessary to ensure members of the committee in charge of sequestration were henceforth judges.”

Article 3 of the law states that “all committee members will be affiliated with appeal courts.”

“They will be named by the minister of justice and approved by the Higher Council of Judges,” and “exercise all the powers necessary to do their job, including securing assistance from state authorities, the stock exchange and brokerage companies and public and private banks.”

Since it was formed in 2013 the nine-member committee has sequestrated the assets of at least 65 Muslim Brotherhood leaders. Assets confiscated include real estate, land, tourist and brokerage companies, pharmacies, schools, cooperative societies, supermarkets, department stores, groceries and restaurants. It has also sequestrated assets owned by Hasm (Decisiveness) and Lewaa Al-Thawra (Revolution Brigade). Both groups are listed as terrorist organisations and are widely believed to be affiliated with Muslim Brotherhood leaders living in Turkey. The two movements have also been designated terrorist entities by the United Kingdom and the United States.

Article 5 stipulates that a sequestration decision can be taken only after a judicial ruling is issued.

“This means the committee is in essence responsible for implementing judicial rulings in favour of sequestration,” says Marawan.

“The sequestration will cover all kinds of property, in-kind possessions, bonds, holdings of local and foreign currencies and financial securities.”

“Under Article 10 all state institutions and banks, whether public or private, are obliged to cooperate with the committee, providing whatever assistance is necessary to ensure its decisions are speedily implemented.

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