Egyptian businessman to stand trial over financing illegal excavation of antiquities

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Sunday 12 Dec 2021

Egypt’s Public Prosecution ordered on Sunday the referral of well-known businessman Hassan Rateb to criminal court over charges of financing a gang to illegally excavate antiquates.

Dar Al-Khadda

Rateb, detained since 29 January, is accused of providing funds to an excavation gang believed to be led by former MP Alaa Hassanin, who was also referred, among others, to the criminal court as per Sunday's order.

Rateb had been arrested nearly one week after Hassanin and 17 others were caught in possession of 201 pieces of antiquities in a warehouse in Old Cairo.

The investigations of the Public Prosecution revealed that Rateb funded Hassanin, his brother, and the other gang members with millions of pounds to illegally excavate antiquities.

Rateb, the former owner of Al-Mehwar satellite channel, is the chairman of Sinai University, Sama Group, and the Sinai Cement Company.

Rateb in 2017 officially accused Hassanin of defrauding him of $3 million in commercial transactions but later withdrew his complaint to the police after Hassanin seemingly returned the money, according to local reports.

The stealing, unlicensed excavation, spoiling, and smuggling of antiquities are punishable by hefty fines and tough prison sentences in Egypt that amount to life imprisonment (25 years in prison).

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