After eight years of deliberations, a Cairo Criminal Court on 22 February ordered that Alaa and Gamal, the two sons of former president Hosni Mubarak, and others be acquitted in the case known as “manipulation of the stock market”.
The court said it would postpone its ruling on preventing nine defendants, including Gamal and Alaa, from disposing of their money and removing them from the travel ban list on 11 March.
Alaa and Gamal Mubarak were among eight defendants who were acquitted of the charge of profiteering from illicit share trading during the sale of Al-Watany Bank of Egypt to the National Bank of Kuwait in 2007. The ruling was issued by judge Khalil Omar Abdel-Aziz.
The other six defendants who were acquitted included former EFG Hermes co-CEOs Hassan Heikal and Yasser Al-Mallawani.
Although the prosecution has the right to appeal the ruling, sources said it is not expected to do so and that the court might even lift a travel ban on the defendants and on disposing of their money on 11 March.
Osama Ebeid, the lawyer of one of the defendants, said the acquittal comes after a report prepared by a panel of banking and stock market experts, upon the court’s order to investigate the case, agreed that the sale of the bank was in line with the stock market law, and that neither financial wrongdoing nor profiteering practices were committed.
A report by the daily Al-Masry Al-Youm on Monday said that Hosni Mubarak smiled broadly when he heard that his two sons were acquitted of the profiteering charges.
Heikal, who returned to Egypt to stand trial in the case, said that he wished that his father, former journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, was still alive to see that he was acquitted of the charges. Heikal died in February 2016.
The Mubaraks’ family lawyer Farid Al-Deeb said that the ruling came after the court had found no direct link between Gamal and Alaa and other defendants and the sale of Al-Watany Bank. El-Deeb indicated that the prosecution still has the right to appeal within 60 days.
Former prosecutor-general Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud referred the defendants to the Cairo Criminal Court in 2012, accusing them of illegally acquiring LE51 million from the sale of Al-Watany Bank in 2007.
The prosecution also charged Gamal Mubarak with participating in the crime of profiteering and illegally acquiring for himself and his companies more than LE493 million by agreeing to sell Al-Watany Bank to achieve financial gains for himself and others, and enabling him to acquire shares from the bank via a company in Cyprus.
In September 2018, a Cairo criminal court ordered the release on bail of the Mubarak brothers just five days after their arrest over charges in the same case.
The case began in 2012 but Mubarak’s sons had been released on bail and banned from travelling. Since the 2011 ouster of Hosni Mubarak, a number of legal lawsuits have been filed against the former president and his relatives.
Bahaaeddin Abu Shoka, a lawyer who worked on the case, alleged in a TV interview that Al-Watany Bank case was forged. “A document submitted to court back when the insider trading case first filed in 2012 was found to be forged as some people were deliberately pushing the case due to post-2011 anti-Mubarak public sentiment,” Abu Shoka said.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 27 February, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly