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.