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Escaped Egyptian tycoon attempts to smuggle out tons of antiques

Three tons of valuables belonging to escaped Egyptian tycoon Hussein Salem, charged with corruption in connection with the export of natural gas to Israel, were confiscated at Cairo Airport yesterday evening

Ahram Online, Sunday 24 Apr 2011
Three tonnes of antiques, paintings and statues were found in the parcels.

Airport Customs stopped yesterday evening 100 parcels allegedly belonging to Egyptian tycoon Hussein Salem, which were headed to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The parcels weighed three tons together and included paintings, antiques, carpets, gold plated trays, gold statues, expensive watches, clocks, clothes and items that may be subject to the Egyptian Law for the Protection of Antiquities.

Sayed Ibrahim, the head of customs, said that airport officials became suspicious when they realised how heavy the packages were and decided to check their contents. He added that the parcels belong to an export company and included papers associated with a Saudi Prince and were heading to Jeddah. The bags were being smuggled by a person holding a Palestinian passport.

Ibrahim informed the airport’s prosecution office who revealed that the items belong to a businessman who is trying to smuggle them out of the country. Ibrahim adds that the items included photos of Salem with Arab leaders and kings, as well as with ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his former chief of staff Zakaria Azmi, along with a carpet with Salem’s name written on it. This led airport officials to believe that they belonged to the businessman, and a committee was formed to investigate the matter.

Salem is one of the closest friends of Mubarak and owns a significant number of touristic sites in Sharm El-Sheikh and shares in the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG) which exports gas to Israel. On 10 March, the Cairo Criminal Court confirmed a decision to freeze all his personal and family assets. Salem fled the country on 26 January, one a day after the revolution began.

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