Top News: Egypt Fact-Finding Committee Refutes Top Auditor’s Claims State Bodies Embezzled EGP600 Billion

A presidential investigative committee accused head of the Central Auditing Authority (CAA) Hisham Geneina on Tuesday of misrepresenting and manipulating facts about state corruption. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered the committee to look into statements made by the head of the body responsible for overseeing state funds and expenditure and revealing financial corruption in an interview with the privately owned Youm7 in late December. In the interview, Geneina claimed corruption within official institutions cost Egypt over EGP600 billion in 2015 alone. The committee accused Geneina of overstating the level of corruption in state institutions and asserted he had miscalculated how much it cost the nation. They said his statements weren’t backed up by facts and figures, claiming he had over exaggerated figures in his monitoring reports, and included incidents that preceded 2015, as well as ongoing corruption cases and those in which the defendants were found innocent. Geneina stood his ground following the committee’s accusation, insisting that he can support all his statements with evidence. The newly elected parliament is also expected to open an investigation into Geneina’s statements next week. On Tuesday night, a large number of MPs—affiliated with a pro-government bloc In Support of Egypt—requested Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Al to entrust a parliamentary fact-finding committee with opening an investigation into Geneina’s statement. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 1/13/2016]

Parliament forms 19 committees, selects committee heads, to review legislation
Egypt’s new parliament issued Tuesday a decision to form 19 internal committee and the heads and deputy heads of those committees for temporary appointment since their elections will follow passing the code of conduct. The parliament said in a statement published online that the eldest MPs will be appointed presidents of the committees, and the youngest MPs will be appointed their deputies. In addition, a special committee will be formed to review laws that are deemed of utmost importance, including the terror and protest laws. Sirri Siam, an independent MP and former chairman of the Higher Council for Judges, will head the committee. Renowned lawyer Bahaa Abu-Shuqa will head the constitutional and legislative committee. Abu-Shuqa is the oldest MP and thus was the parliament speaker on Sunday until Abdel-Al was elected. Parliamentarian Ali al-Moselhy will head the Economics Committee. Moselhy was a member of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party and served as Minister of Social Solidarity under Mubarak. The Budget and Planning Committee will be headed by MP Kamal Ahmed. Ahmed, a long-time critic of Mubarak, handed-in his resignation from the parliament on Tuesday, but it was rejected. Controversial lawyer and Zamalek club chairman Mortada Mansour will head the Human Rights Committee. Mansour is renowned for filing lawsuits against his critics. The 19 committees will meet to discuss 341 presidential decrees passed since the removal of former president Mohamed Morsi from office in July 2013. Speaker Ali Abdel-Al said parliament has less than 13 days to discuss the 341 decrees, and as a result all 19 committees should prepare reports about these decrees for discussion by January 16. “If we are not able to finish these presidential decrees within the 15-day period, all of Egypt will stumble into a severe constitutional gridlock,” Abdel-Al said. [DNE, Ahram Online, 1/13/2016]

Sisi pardons prisoners on occasion of January 25 uprising, Police Day
“In commemoration of the January 25 uprising and Police Day,” Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a presidential decree on Tuesday pardoning prisoners who served part of their sentence in prison, state-run news agency MENA reported. The amnesty applies to those with life sentences whose jail time will have reached 15 years on January 25, 2016. Those who will have served half their sentence by January 25 will also be pardoned if the period they served is no less than six months. Pardoned prisoners will be put on probation for various periods of time depending on the length of the period they served in prison, in accordance with the provisions of the Egyptian Penal Code. The Deputy Interior Minister for Prisons will head a committee that will be formed to decide which prisoners will be pardoned. [Aswat Masriya, 1/12/2016]


Four officials suspended, referred to prosecution for Egypt building collapse
Four officials were suspended on Wednesday and referred to the Prosecutor General following the collapse of a six-story residential building in Egypt’s Sharqiya governorate that killed at least three on Monday, state news agency MENA reported. The officials—deputy head of Minya al-Qamh city, the city’s two heads of engineering, and the head of coordination—are being investigated for “negligence and shortcomings” in failing to supervise illegal buildings in Minya al-Qamh city. Sharqiya’s governor Khaled Said ordered some files related to building permits locked-in in his office so no one can tamper with them. Three bodies were pulled from the rubble on Tuesday, including two sisters, an eight and a 17-year old. [Ahram Online, 1/13/2016]

Egypt author faces retrial over sexually explicit material
An Egyptian author will be retried in a Cairo court for publishing sexually explicit material and could face jail time. Writer Ahmed Naji and Tarek al-Taher, the editor-in-chief of Egypt’s top literary magazine, Akhbar al-Adab, are due back in court next month, after they were acquitted less than two weeks ago. Their lawyer, Mahmoud Othman, says Naji faces up to two years in prison and a fine of up to 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($1,245) if found guilty of violating a law against publishing material deemed contrary to public morals. The prosecution took up the case after an individual filed a lawsuit claiming he was harmed by an excerpt of Naji’s novel, “The Use of Life,” which was published in Akhbar al-Adab magazine in August 2014. [AP, 1/12/2016]

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Egypt’s Central Bank Governor sees import rules saving $20 billion in 2016
Egypt’s Central Bank Governor Tarek Amer said rules to curb what he described as unnecessary imports may save about $20 billion this year, helping to ease a foreign currency shortage. “The largest demand for foreign exchange comes from imports, so these measures are a quick fix to improve the balance of payments,” Amer said in an interview. “Egypt has been flooded with cheap, low-quality goods and we are trying to regulate this market.” Authorities have tightened rules to finance the imports of goods deemed non-essential and have asked importers to register their foreign suppliers with the government. “In a matter of a few months, we have succeeded in restoring confidence in the domestic market,” Amer said. [Bloomberg, 1/13/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt adopts new measures to reduce consumer loans and diversify banks’ client base | Ahram Online
  • Egypt redraws investment zones to streamline administrative oversight | DNE
  • ICIEC CEO says Egypt classified as medium-risk country | DNE


Egypt’s police arrest two Facebook admins for ‘calling for protests on Jan 25 anniversary’
Egypt’s security forces arrested two Facebook administrators who are allegedly responsible for 47 pages on the social media website that “incite against the country’s institutions” and that “call for protests on the January 25 2011 anniversary,” state news agency MENA reported Wednesday. The two arrested are a 25-year-old man from Giza, and a 21-year-old woman from Upper Egypt’s Minya governorate. Both defendants also allegedly admitted to being members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group. Their laptops and mobile phones, used to access the Facebook pages, were seized. The pair are expected to be questioned by the prosecution, charged, and referred to court. [Ahram Online, 1/13/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Human Rights Watch says Egypt’s new parliament should amend protest, anti-terror laws | Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr
  • Egyptian Minister of Social Solidarity promises to reform orphanages | Al Monitor
  • NGOs and public look to parliamentary review period as chance to affect legal change | DNE


Egypt extends state of emergency in North Sinai until April
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a presidential decree Tuesday extending the state of emergency in Sinai for three months as of Wednesday, January 27. Sisi had declared a state of emergency and a curfew in October 2014 in the border province for an initial three months following a militant attack in which 33 security personnel killed. The decision has since been extended for three-months at a time in January, April, July and October of 2015. The state of emergency covers al-Arish, Rafah and some surrounding areas. Meanwhile, Egyptian parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel-Al told MPs that in cases where parliament is not in session, or in the absence of one, the president can pass a measure to impose a state of emergency, then simply inform the parliament once it convenes, adding that MPs in this case do not have a constitutional right to vote on the measure. Abdel-Al’s announcement angered some MPs, who argued that Article 154 of the 2014 constitution, which regulates legal steps to declare a state of emergency, stipulates that parliament has the right to vote on emergency steps. However, Abdel-Al’s interpretation of Article 154 carried the day and no vote was taken. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 1/12/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Train derailed by explosion in Giza, no casualties | DNE, Cairo Post


Turkish court releases 12 Egyptians arrested on charges of joining ISIS  
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday the release of 12 Egyptians arrested in Turkey on charges of joining the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) militant group. The 12 Egyptians had been arrested in Adana province, according to Egypt’s consul in Istanbul Bassam Rady, who confirmed on Monday that the Turkish authorities had arrested them for allegedly joining ISIS. Three minors were among those arrested, according to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry statement. The Assistant to the Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs and Egyptians Abroad said that the Turkish court decided to release all the Egyptian citizens and refer them to the Office of Foreigners and Immigration to deport them to Egypt. Meanwhile, Egypt condemned ”in the strongest terms” a terrorist bombing that rocked Turkey’s Istanbul, killing 10 people and wounding 15 others in the city’s main tourist hub Sultanahmet. In an official statement, the spokesperson for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry expressed Egypt’s condolences to the Turkish people and the families of the victims of other nationalities. [Ahram Online, 1/12/2016]

Also of Interest

  • British diplomat visits Cairo to ‘welcome Egypt to UN Security Council’ | Ahram Online
  • Swiss attorney-general to attend talks in Egypt on returning Mubarak funds | Ahram Online
  • Shoukry meets with German Bundestag majority leader | DNE