Egypt parliament to open investigation into state auditor Geneina's corruption claims

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 13 Jan 2016

Hisham Geneina's has said theft by public officials has cost the teassury LE600 billion in recent years

File Photo: Hesham Genena In this Tuesday, April 16, 2014 photo, (AP)

Egypt's newly-elected parliament – the House of Representatives – is expected to open next week an investigation into top auditor Hisham Geneina's recent statement that state corruption led to the loss of LE600 billion.

Geneina is chairman of the Central Auditing Agency (CAA), which acts as the country's main watchdog on public authorities. The CAA has been under the purview of the president of the republic since 1996.

On Tuesday night, a large number of MPs – affiliated with the In Support of Egypt – requested parliament's speaker Ali Abdel-Al to entrust a parliamentary fact-finding committee with opening an investigation into Geneina's statement.

The request comes just one day after an investigative committee formed by Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said Geneina 's statement has inflated figures about corruption in Egypt and that his statement aimed at defaming the reputation of Egypt.

Sameh Seif El-Yazal, a former intelligence officer and leader of the In Support of Egypt coalition, said he and 50 other MPs have submitted a memo to speaker Abdel-Al, asking him that an ad hoc fact-finding parliamentary committee be formed to investigate Geneina's claims.

"Geneina has deliberately misled the public about corruption in Egypt and his statement was a lot of defamation for Egypt in domestic and foreign circles," said El-Yazal.

El-Yazal told reporters Tuesday night that under the request of a majority of MPs, Geneina could be forced to come before parliament to face questioning.

Mostafa Bakri, a journalist and a leading MP affiliated with the pro-Sisi bloc, said "parliament could refer Geneina to prosecution authorities to be investigated on his misguided reports about corruption."

El-Yazal, Bakri and many other MPs believe that Geneina is loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood and that he is leading a conspiracy on behalf of its leaders to defame the regime of president El-Sisi.

Bakri said after the release of the investigative committee's report that Geneina should be dismissed from his position as CAA's chairman.

El-Yazal said the report made by the investigative committee on Geneina's statement will be thoroughly revised by the house as parliament is the main supervisory and watchdog institution in the country, and one of its main tasks is to revise CAA's reports about corruption.

Joining forces with the pro-Sisi bloc, 25 MPs led by Anwar Esmat El-Sadat, leader of the liberal reform and development party, have Wednesday signed a memo requesting that speaker Abdel-Al summon Geneina to defend his claims before parliament.

"We are neutral and we do not want him to come under retaliatory grounds… all we want is to reach the truth," said El-Sadat, adding that "it is very important to listen to the two sides of the story; Geneina and those who made the investigative report upon the request of President El-Sisi."

Sadat said the fact that CAA is independent does not mean that its chairman is immune to questioning.

"Both MPs and CAA are mainly responsible for supervising state authorities and investigating public corruption," said Sadat.

On Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail visited parliament to congratulate constitutional law professor Abdel-Al for his election as speaker. Ismail said that once parliament's committees are formed, the government will be ready to deliver its policy statement before the House.

"This is expected to be at the end of January," said Ismail.

Ismail also said that work groups were formed to review reports issued by the CAA after Geneina's statement about corruption.

In 1996, after prime minister Kamal El-Ganzouri was dismissed by then-president Hosni Mubarak, it was decided that CAA come under the supervision of the president rather than parliament, which had long been responsible for revising CAA's reports about state authorities.

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