Egyptian authorities said Tuesday they are asking foreign countries to unfreeze the assets of a tycoon who was tried in absentia and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for exporting natural gas to Israel for prices lower than those prevailing on world markets.
Hussein Salem, once a close associate of former president Hosni Mubarak, allegedly sold Mubarak and his family five luxury villas at a fraction of their market value in return for landing a lucrative deal to export natural gas to Israel.
Egypt asked Spain, Switzerland and Hong Kong to unblock Salem’s foreign-held assets after he handed over 75 percent of his and his family’s wealth in exchange for dropping corruption cases against him.
Salem fled to Spain after the January 2011 uprising that overthrew Mubarak.
The decision by a committee tasked with retrieving illicit funds and assets followed Egypt’s retrieval of Salem’s assets and funds totaling 5.3 billion Egyptian pounds ($600 million), the Egyptian prosecutor general said in a Tuesday statement.
The decision also called on Interpol to remove Salem’s name from its “Red Notice” list and for him to be allowed unimpeded travel.
Salem’s lawyer Mahmoud Kebeish said earlier this month that Salem was unable to leave Spain and travel “because of the Red Notice.”
Spanish authorities arrested Salem in June 2011 after a request from Egypt, though he was released on bail a few days later. He has been banned from leaving Spain since then.
Several other Mubarak-era officials have sought to cut a deal with the state in corruption cases including Mubarak’s longtime chief-of-staff Zakaria Azmi and former trade minister Rasheed Mohammed Rasheed.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.