File Photo: A view of the High Court of Justice in Cairo, Egypt. REUTERS
A Cairo criminal court upheld on Monday an order to seize funds of renowned Egyptian businessman Hassan Rateb, who has been detained pending investigations over accusations of funding illegal archaeological excavations.
The court's council chamber rejected an appeal lodged by Rateb, who is not allowed to dispose of his assets, including cash, stock market shares, bonds, and bank deposits, at the judicial order.
Rateb was arrested on 28 June over his alleged involvement in financing a gang of 17 people led by former MP Alaa Hassanin, according to a prosecution statement.
He was ordered to be detained for 4 days pending investigation then his detention was extended for another 15 days.
Rateb's arrest came four days after MP Alaa Hassanin, alongside others, were caught with tens of artefacts in their possession.
The investigations of the Public Prosecution revealed that Rateb funded Hassanin, his brother, and the gang members with millions of pounds to illegally excavate antiquities.
Rateb, the former owner of the privately owned Al-Mehwar satellite channel, is the chairman of Sinai University, Sama Group, and the Sinai Cement Company.
Egypt imposes tough penalties on antiquities trafficking as there has been a rise in antiquities theft and illegal digging for artefacts in the country since the 2011 revolution.
Illegal archaeological digging, antiquities trafficking, and smuggling offences carry penalties varying from 7 years to life imprisonment.
Over the past several years, Egypt has returned hundreds of antiquities that had been looted and smuggled abroad, the latest of which was a shipment of 114 pieces that was retrieved from France last week.