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'Iron Lady' Hoda Abdel-Moneim sentenced to five years in prison

The infamous Hoda Abdel-Moneim was handed a prison sentence Saturday after evading Egyptian justice for more than two decades

Ahram Online, Saturday 25 Jun 2011
Hoda Abdel-Moneim
Hoda Abdel-Moneim, also known as the “Iron Lady”‎
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Hoda Abdel-Moneim, dubbed the "Iron Lady" by the press, was finally sentenced to five years in prison ‎Saturday. She was convicted of fraud in 1987.‎ Abdel-Moneim fled Egypt the same year of her conviction. She reportedly ‎embezzled up to LE600 million in loans from four Egyptian banks. ‎

The mid-60s Abdel-Moneim remained on the run for 22 years before being arrested in 2009 at ‎Cairo International Airport following her surprise return from Greece.‎ She was twice sentenced in absentia, in 1996 and 2000, and faced up to 74 years in ‎jail before the sentence was decreased.‎

At the time of her return, Abdel-Moneim said she was ready to face trial and ‎prove that she was not guilty.‎

Abdel-Moneim's saga began in 1980 when she set up Hodaco Misr, an investment ‎company that launched a massive promotion campaign for deluxe housing ‎projects in the upmarket Cairo suburbs of Heliopolis, Maadi, and El-Haram, Cairo. ‎The company received millions of pounds in down payments from people seeking to ‎reserve flats in the housing project, and obtained a LE20 million loan from the Egyptian ‎Land Bank and the Suez Canal Bank. 

In 1983, however, Abdel-Moneim began facing trouble when complaints were lodged ‎with the socialist prosecutor-general (SPG), accusing her of forging the documents used ‎to secure the loans and of failing to deliver property to those who had paid for it. ‎The SPG ordered the sequestration of Abdel-Moneim's property and she was banned ‎from travelling pending investigations.‎

Abdel-Moneim managed to flee the country under mysterious circumstances. She was ‎dubbed the "Iron Lady" by the local press who accused her of exploiting her connections ‎with influential officials in order to flee. ‎The local press and the People's Assembly speculated at the time about who helped her ‎abscond, with accusatory fingers pointed at late Minister of Interior Zaki Badr. ‎

Badr faced a barrage of hostile questions in parliament, with opposition MPs wondering ‎how airport authorities failed to recognise Abdel-Moneim, whose face had been ‎plastered across the press for weeks. Subsequently, a film was made about the affair, ‎under the title Hoda and His Excellency the Minister.‎

Badr was dismissed in 1990.‎

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