Mubarak-era housing minister gets 3 years prison for corrupt real estate deals

Former Housing Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Suleiman was sentenced on Monday to three years in prison for squandering public funds during his time in office. He was convicted of selling public lands at below-market prices to the SODIC real estate group.

Suleiman, who served as minister from 1993 to 2005, was also ordered to pay more than LE1 billion in fines and restitution, the privately owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced a number of other former officials on the same charges, including two former vice presidents of the Urban Communities Authority.

The firm behind major suburban Cairo housing developments like Westown and Kattameya Plaza, SODIC is one of several well-connected real estate groups that grew to prominence under former President Hosni Mubarak — often by developing housing on formerly state-owned land. The firm’s former chairman, Magdy Rasekh, is the father-in-law of Mubarak’s son Alaa.

Suleiman was first detained in relation to the SODIC land deals in April 2011. In March 2012, he was convicted and sentenced to five years prison and around LE2 billion in fines. At the time, he was also sentenced to three years in prison on a separate charge of giving free government-built houses to his wife and other relatives.

Rasekh was sentenced in absentia in the case, and remains a fugitive.

SODIC was not assigned criminal liability. However, the company signed a settlement with the government in April 2014, agreeing to pay LE900 million to make up the difference between the price it originally paid for land for its Eastown Project in New Cairo and a new assessment of its value.

Suleiman successfully appealed the charges relating to the SODIC case in March 2013, and was authorized to be released after serving his other three-year term.

A retrial of the SODIC case was scheduled to begin in April 2013, but was repeatedly delayed.

SODIC is not the only real estate firm alleged to have received sweetheart deals on state land during the Mubarak era. Rival developer Talaat Mostafa Group also found itself in legal trouble over its flagship Madinaty project, eventually reaching a LE9 billion settlement with the government in March 2015.

That same month, the government passed a new law banning third parties from filing complaints against government contracts

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