Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1410, (20 - 26 September 2018)
Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Issue 1410, (20 - 26 September 2018)

Ahram Weekly

The Mubarak brothers back in jail

Mubarak’s sons were arrested pending an investigation into corruption charges, reports Gamal Essam El-Din

The Mubarak brothers back in jail
The Mubarak brothers back in jail

Cairo’s Criminal Court on Saturday ordered that Alaa and Gamal, the two sons of former president Hosni Mubarak, be arrested pending an investigation into what is popularly known as “the stock market manipulation case”.

Gamal and Alaa attended the court hearing. Once the judge ordered their arrest, they were transferred to custody in south Cairo’s infamous Tora Prison.

The court said a hearing on the case will be held on 20 October to listen to a report prepared by a specialised technical committee. “The court received the report prepared by a group of experts on stock market deals, but as it is still not complete, it has decided to refer it back to the committee to cover all points related to the case,” said the court’s presiding judge Ahmed Abul-Fotouh.

Taher Al-Khouli, the lawyer defending Alaa and Gamal, along with five other defendants, told the court that the report “is comprehensive and that its final result has shown that none of the defendants were by any means involved in any corruption or shady practices”.

In response, however, Abul-Fotouh insisted that the report was still incomplete and “came up short of the required details on the case”. As a result, said Abul-Fotouh, “I ordered that Alaa and Gamal and five other defendants be arrested and taken into custody pending the conclusion of a comprehensive report which should answer all questions raised by the court.”

The defendants were initially put on trial in July 2012. The court, however, decided in July 2013 that Alaa and Gamal be released on bail and that a technical committee composed of financial experts be formed to prepare a report on the case and decide if there was any wrongdoing.

Alaa and Gamal and the other five defendants are accused of insider trading in the sale of Al-Watany Bank of Egypt to the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK).

In August 2007, NBK acquired a 51 per cent stake in Al-Watany. The offer was extended to other shareholders and by October 2007, NBK had acquired around 94 per cent stake of the bank.

The ongoing trial focuses on the buying by the Mubarak brothers of shares in Al-Watany Bank that they allegedly knew was to become the target of a takeover, a move that pushed share prices up, thus enabling them to make huge profits.

Prosecution authorities say the defendants received illegal profits estimated at LE2 billion from the sale’s operation.

Prosecutors also allege that the defendants concealed their identity through offshore funds based in Cyprus to buy the shares on the Egyptian stock market and later, when the shares were bought by the NBK, transfer their profits abroad.

Several press reports claimed that Alaa and Gamal have been repeatedly accused of using front companies in Cyprus and elsewhere to hide their investments so as not to stand accused of breaking the stock market and Central Bank rules which prevent conflicts of interest.

The so-called Panama Papers claimed that the two Mubaraks used a company in Cyprus between 1996 and 2008 to hide massive investments on the Egyptian stock market. “They have intervened many times to help this Cypriot company — which acted as a front for their businesses — get majorities in companies and banks being privatised on the market,” said the Panama Papers which were released in 2015.

Lawyer Al-Khouli said he was surprised by the court’s decision ordering the arrest of Alaa and Gamal. “Alaa and Gamal spent two years in prison, after which the court ordered they be released,” Al-Khouli said.

Judge Abul-Fotouh said the required report on the manipulation case failed to answer several points such as giving detailed information on EFG-Hermes Holding and Naeem Holding — both advising on the deal — and lists of their founders and names of members of the boards of the two companies between 2005 and 2008. “The court also ordered the committee take note of the case report, as prepared by prosecution authorities, and have access to all documents necessary to the sale operation,” said Abul-Fotouh, adding that “the report came up short on all these points.”

The list of defendants includes Hassan Heikal, who served as executive managing director of EFG-Hermes Holding until October 2013. EFG-Hermes took charge of promoting the sale of Al-Watany Bank of Egypt on the stock market. The list also comprises Yasser Al-Malawani, non-executive vice chairman of EFG-Hermes Holding SAE since August 2018. He formerly served as the co-CEO with Heikal.

Both Alaa, 57, and Gamal, 55, have stayed out of the spotlight since they were released from prison in 2015.

Alaa is a businessman who stayed out of politics, while Gamal, an investment banker who had been heavily involved in politics since 2000, was appointed head of an influential political committee affiliated with his father’s defunct ruling National Democratic Party. Gamal was widely believed to being anointed to inherit power from his father who was forced out of office after an uprising in January 2011.

The two brothers, alongside their father, were arrested in August 2011 for several alleged crimes, spending several periods of time in jail.

The now 90-year-old former president Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for three decades (1981-2011), was released in 2017 after the Court of Cassation cleared him of ordering police forces to kill protesters during the 2011 uprising and helping a businessman, Hussein Salem, monopolise the sale of Egyptian natural gas to Israel in return for personal profits.

In May 2015, Mubarak was sentenced, along with his two sons, to three years in jail for embezzling money allocated to maintaining presidential palaces. Mubarak’s sentence was covered by time already served.

Alaa Mubarak took to Twitter following the Cairo Criminal Court’s ruling, stating: “Anyhow, let’s thank God. The court ordered again that we be arrested in the stock market case and if God wills, the truth will be revealed one day. Thanks to all those who stood by us.”

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