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Ex-minister, Mubarak confidante sentenced to 15 years in Egypt-Israel gas trial

Former petroleum minister Sameh Fahmy and business tycoon Hussein Salem receive 15-year jail sentence Thursday for selling gas to Israel at below market value prices

Ahram Online, Thursday 28 Jun 2012
Hussien Salem and Sameh Fahmi
Hussien Salem and Sameh Fahmi

Businessman and close confidante of Egypt's ousted-president Hussein Salem and ex-minister of petroleum Sameh Fahmy, were both sentenced to 15 years in jail by Cairo's Criminal Court Thursday for squandering public funds in a gas deal with Israel. 

The case was filed against Fahmy, who served as oil minister from 1999 to 2011, and six Mubarak-era officials in the petroleum sector, as they sold Egyptian gas to Israel at prices below market value via a direct order without respecting and adhering to the correct legal procedures.

Egypt agreed to provide Israel with natural gas in 2005, in a deal built on the landmark 1979 peace accords. The public prosecution claimed the agreement cost Egypt over $714 million in losses.

Salem, who is a founding shareholder of the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG) which has supplied Israel since June 2008, was accused of collaborating with EMG to secure lucrative gas deals.

The business tycoon, who was described by Justice Minister Mohamed El-Guindi as the man who holds "the keys to corruption in Egypt", reportedly contributed $95 million to EMG's paid up capital.

In March 2012, Salem was found guilty of illegally acquiring public property and had already been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

However, during the 2 June Mubarak trial proceedings, Salem was acquitted of bribing the former president in the form of four villas in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

Salem was detained in Spain, where he currently resides, on 14 June following an international arrest warrant issued by the global police agency Interpol.

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