Top businessmen accused of shady deal to acquire public land

Ahram Online, Thursday 28 Apr 2011

Two prominent business tycoons have been put under investigation for development deals that undersold public land, from which they subsequently made a handsome profit

Investigations have been launched against Mahmoud El-Gammal, the father-in-law of Gamal Mubarak, and Salah Diab, the owner of El-Masry-El-Yom newspaper, on allegations of corruption in deal making.

The two businessmen are accused of acquiring a vast amount of land on the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road from the Ministry of Agriculture for prices well below their market value, and of building tourist resorts on them.

El-Gammal and Diab are accusing of taking the land in complicity with the Administration Board of the Urbanisation and Agricultural Development Authority (UADA).

The UADA is accused of finalising the deal without getting approval from the relevant irrigation, defence and heritage authorities, as required by law.

Investigations have also revealed that the duo together established a company called Sunset Hills Investments in 1995 and took 750 feddans on the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road for LE300 per feddan with the approval of the UADA. The land was sold with the purpose of reclaiming the land for agriculture, but instead the duo built resorts and resold them at a vast profit.

According to the investigation, at the time the contract was signed each feddan was worth between LE5000-LE7000. They also allegedly ruined water resources on the land by creating artificial lakes for their resorts.

Short link: