Hussein Salem (Photo: Ahram Online archive)
In his first public interview since 30 June, Hussein Salem, the business tycoon and one of the closest friends of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, said he is willing to reach a conciliatory deal with the Egyptian government.
Speaking by phone on Thursday to CBC, a satellite television channel, Salem expressed willingness to launch new initiatives to help the fledgling economy once court cases against him are settled.
Salem is facing 37 years in jail in three separate cases relating for illegally acquiring public property, money laundering, squandering public funds in the Israel gas deal.
Salem escaped from Egypt shortly after the outbreak of the January revolution. He currently resides in Spain, where he holds citizenship.
Egypt has asked the Interpol to hand in the fugitive tycoon.
"My actual wealth is less than 1/1000 of the media claims," said Salem, when asked his wealth adds up to tens of billions of dollars.
In the spring of 2012, Salem offered to the Muslim Brotherhood government giving up half his fortune in exchange for dropping all charges against him, in a deal that did not materialise.
Salem said he has been ecstatic since the outbreak of the 30 June revolution which toppled the Brotherhood.
He told CBC that the offer he previously extended to the Egyptian government [under the Brotherhood] will not be on the table.
However, Salem said he is presenting a new initiative to the interim government which includes funding for the unemployed in the decimated tourism sector, as well as restoring police stations, churches and mosques.
"The verdicts against my client were reached in absentia and could be reconsidered by the judiciary in case we reach a deal with the government," Tarek Abdel Aziz, a lawyer for Salem told told Ahram online.
Hani Salah, spokesperson for the cabinet, called in to the CBC show and assured Salem that the final verdict in his cases is in the hands of the judiciary, adding that if an official offer is presented to the government, it would be considered.
"Egypt is now open to all honourable businessmen and their well intentioned initiatives," the cabinet spokesperson told CBC.