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'My family is targeted by Brotherhood': Egypt business tycoon Naguib Sawiris

In an interview on Tuesday, Naguib Sawiris claims Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is targeting his family and criticises the current government of 'distorting the legal system'

Ahram Online, Wednesday 6 Mar 2013
Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris
Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris (Photo: Reuters)
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Naguib Sawiris, Egypt's second richest man, currently residing in London, revealed on Tuesday he had 'no choice' but to leave Egypt because of the way the Muslim Brotherhood, the group which President Mohamed Morsi hails from, is running the country.

In an interview on the Egyptian private television channel, Dream TV, Sawiris, was very frank in voicing his worries about his and his family's business prospects under a 'Brotherhood-ruled Egypt.'

"I'd rather live in Egypt, but I have no choice other than to leave," the 57-year-old billionaire explained.  "We are one of the biggest business families in Egypt... but we are being deliberately attacked [by the political leadership]."

"In the President's speech, he singled us [the Sawiris family] out, and said we owe taxes," he told his interviewer. "What taxes? They filed a case against us that is completely false," he said, referring to a speech President Morsi gave on 6 October 2012.

Out of his two billionaire brothers and father, Naguib is the only one who is involved in politics. He vocally supported the uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and later founded the Free Egyptians Party.

A very vocal critic of the Islamist political movement in general and the Muslim Brotherhood in specific, Sawiris was subject to fierce campaigns against him and calls to boycott Mobinil, a mobile carrier that he founded.

"What's happening now in Egypt resembles Mussolini's rise to power in fascist Italy," he said, asserting that the Muslim Brotherhood is attempting to take full control of the Egyptian state.

Nassef and Onsi Sawiris, Naguib's younger brother and father, were slapped with a travel ban earlier this week for allegedly evading taxes in a 2007 sale deal of a cement venture owned by Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) which they head.

Naguib explained that his brother and father see that they were targeted because of his involvement in Egypt's politics.

"My family blames me for being outspoken against the Brotherhood," the Telecoms giant added.

Critical of what he described as the 'Brotherhood distorting the legal system in Egypt,' Sawiris claimed the Brotherhood is using the judiciary to target their political rivals.

"It is happening in a systematic way; all the [corruption] cases coming out now can be traced back to [targeting] the opposition...or seeking revenge from the past [regime]," Sawiris added.

Such an environment, the controversial businessman explained, is very repellent to investment. "Who would come invest here and face the possibility of going to jail?"

Sawiris also referred to many cases filed against businessmen for buying land from the government at allegedly low prices. "They say [investors] took the land at cheap prices; but it was the government which set the price," Sawiris said.

When speaking about news that floated about possibly liquidating his assets in Egypt and transferring his business abroad, Sawiris asserted, "I did not sell my assets in Egypt and will never; I have always had businesses abroad. I will never liquidate my assets in Egypt." 

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