Egypt working on reconciliation in questionable business deals: Minister

Ahram Online, Sunday 7 Oct 2012

The government of PM Qandil is taking one more shot at settling cases with businessmen who improperly acquired public funds and property in the Mubarak era

Egypt working on reconciliation in questionable business deals
Egypt's former Housing Minister Ahmed el-Maghrabi (R) and former Tourism Minister Zuhair Garana arrive at court in a police vehicle in north Cairo February 23, 2011 (Photo: Reuters)

Reconciliation with investors in corruption cases is still on the government's agenda, but the process has been stalled by the continuous change of cabinets, Egypt's Minister of Investment Osama Saleh said on Sunday.

Consecutive governments since February 2011 mulled reconciliation with businessmen, many of whom were close to Mubarak's ruling circles. In January 2012, then ruling military council amended the country's investment law, opening the door to such settlements. The law gave the government the right to settle disputes with investors who have improperly profited from public funds or property if they returned all the assets in dispute.

Saleh was quoted by Ahram Arabic website as saying that a "reconciliation committee" will be formed in the coming few days and will be headed by Prime Minister Hisham Qandil to "devise solutions to end conflicts with investors."

The law was originally prepared by the first post-revolution cabinet of Essam Sharaf government and aimed at stimulating investment.

The investment/reconciliation law, passed on 3 January, 2012, was met with criticism from several political groups which charged it grants businessmen at fault "too much slack."

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), for example, said the law violated the rights of the Egyptian public since it stipulated that offenders must return improperly-acquired funds at their old worth thus not taking into account the change in the value of the assets following their acquisition.

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