Egypt's Citadel Capital chairman slapped with travel ban

Salma Hussein, Thursday 14 Apr 2011

Ahmed Heikel unable to leave Egypt as prosecutor investigates his role in the privatisation and sale of state-owned assets

AHmed Hekal

The Prosecutor-General has issued a travel ban on former prime minister Atef Ebeid and Citadel Capital chairman and founder Ahmed Heikel.

The two are accused of conspiring to embezzle public funds and profiteering, with the Prosecutor-General's office currently investigating the case, according to state news agency, MENA.

The charges concern the privatisation and sale of public companies, including Cement Portland Helwan.

Ebeid is alleged to have approved the sale of the strongly-performing state-owned company to Heikal at an under-valued price. Heikel is in turn accused of making enormous profits by reselling the firm at a doubled price to a foreign company.

The news was first published on the Prosecutor-General's Facebook page on Wednesday, but a spokesman from the office initially denied the travel ban included Heikal. It has now been confirmed that both he and Ebeid are banned from leaving Egypt.

Shares in Citadel Capital were among the top losers on Thursday's stock market following the news.

Citadel Capital is one of the Middle East and North Africa region's leading private equity firms. Its 19 opportunity-specific funds control platform companies with investments of more than US$8.6 billion in 15 industries including energy, mining, agrifoods, cement, transportation and retail, according to its website.

Founded in 2004, Citadel Capital is majority owned and controlled by its employees and has $757 million of its own capital invested across its funds and platform companies.

In 2010, owner Ahmed Heikal and his brother, Hassan made their first appearances on the Arab world's most wealthy list, charting 48th and 49th respectively, with estimated wealth of $1.7 billion each. They are the sons of Hassanein Heikal, the Nasserist political writer. 

Hassan is the vice chairman and CEO of EFG Hermes, the largest investment bank in Egypt.

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