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Egypt recovers $1.5bn in tax evasion cases

Egypt recovers LE12.1 billion ($1.5 billion) in tax evasion cases and retrieves land from business tycoon Hussein Salem

Ahram Online , Thursday 23 Jul 2015
Tax Authority
File Photo. Egypt's tax authority. (Photo: Ahram Online)

Egypt has recovered LE12.1 billion in tax evasion cases and retrieved other state assets, the country's general prosecutor announced in a statement on Wednesday.

The prosecutor also confiscated 900 feddans of state land in Sharqiya along with 250 square metres of land in Sharm El-Sheikh from business tycoon Hussein Salem.

The statement did not clarify when the ruling was made or which cases it was in response to. It remains unclear why the lands were confiscated.

Salem escaped from Egypt following the eruption of the 2011 popular uprising that ousted long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Salem currently resides in Spain, where he holds citizenship. The business tycoon offered the government LE4.6 billion (half his fortune which is valued at LE8 billion) in exchange for reconciliation.

In May, Salem's lawyer, Mahmoud Kebeish, told Ahram Online that his client is facing two retrials on charges of illegally acquiring land, squandering public funds, and illegally selling electricity, in addition to a pending investigation on illicit gains.

Ahram Online was unable to immediately reach Kebeish to clarify for which cases corresponded to the land confiscations.

Egypt's government has taken in the past year a series of policies aimed to boost an economy battered by more than four years of political turmoil.

Since his election in June 2014, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has taken measures to cut subsidies and introduce new taxes to narrow the state's ballooning budget deficit.

But seen as an obstacle to economic growth, corruption remains high in the Arab country, which scored 37 in the corruption perception index prepared by transparency international, where 0 is most corrupt and 100 is most clean.

In the fiscal year that ended last month, Egypt collected LE267 billion ($34.1 billion) in tax revenues, representing 90 percent of taxes targeted for that year, the head of the Tax Authority was quoted by the state-run MENA news agency earlier this month.

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