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Mubarak govt spent just LE70 million from LE9 billion earthquake aid fund: Report

Investigation suggests government made little use of donations made by Arab world to help Egypt recover from the 1992 disaster, with mystery still surrounding the funds' fate

Ahram Online, Thursday 22 Mar 2012
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt's Mubarak-era government spent only LE70 million of the LE9 billion in international donations it received in the aftermath of the country's 1992 earthquake, a judicial source at the Public Funds Prosecution claims.
Speaking to Ahram's Arabic-language portal, the anonymous source said investigations into the government's spending were still in progress and that the role of former president Hosni Mubarak had not yet been examined.
More than 500 people around Egypt's capital were killed in the 12 October 1992 earthquake which had its epicentre in Dahshur, around 35 kilometres south of Cairo.
The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) opened an account in the wake of the disaster to handle the approximately LE9 billion that other Arab countries donated to Egypt.
But according to the judicial source, Mubarak gave the government the green light to spend just LE70 million of the total funds. 
The Public Funds Prosecution is currently tracking how this sum was spent. According to the report, LE70 million was withdrawn from the bank between 1993 and 1997, but it is unclear where the rest of the money went.
The body's accusations mirrors claims made in January this year. Then, an article in the independent Egyptian daily Youm7 quoted an ex-official from the Central Auditing Organisation as saying the central bank holds three accounts in Mubarak's name, storing funds given to Egypt by other Arab nations over the last 20 years.
The central bank responded to the allegations by saying media reports were 'exaggerated'. The bank added that it still held the relevant funds and said they were owned by Egypt. 
The bank also provided a breakdown of the funds that newspapers claimed made up the alleged Mubarak accounts.
But the CBE governor later said that Mubarak had direct access to the accounts, and he referred the case to the Public Funds Prosecution.
The bank said in January that most of the funds -- some $4.6 billion -- were donated by Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, the UAE and Libya between 1990 and 1992 under the collective title, 'Sum from Arab nations'.
This sum was added to the central bank's international reserves, with some deposited in foreign banks and the rest invested in US government bonds, it added.
The prosecution says it has obtained documents presented by the under-secretary of the Central Audit Authority (CAA) who accuses Mubarak of embezzling the donations, saying he was helped by the CAA's head, Gawdat El-Malt and the CBE's governor, Farouk El-Okda.
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