Government committee confiscates assets from Daily News Egypt and 16 others

Business News, the parent company of Daily News Egypt and Al-Borsa, and 16 other people had their assets confiscated on Thursday by a state-appointed committee tasked with overseeing the finances of alleged Muslim Brotherhood affiliates.

The confiscated assets will be managed by the state-owned Akhbar al-Youm for Investment.

Business News owner Mostafa Sakr had his assets seized by the same committee in December 2016. Both the Daily News Egypt and Al-Borsa websites have been blocked, along with over 133 other independent news websites. However, both newspapers have continued publishing.

Hussien Abd Rabo, CEO of Business News, told Mada Masr that Akhbar al-Youm is set to manage the financial and administrative affairs of the company. The aim of this, he explained, is to identify the source of their assets and the subjects of its spending, as well as making sure it is not associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

He added that appointing the state-owned company to run financial affairs would make it easier for Business News to follow up on its financial commitments to printing houses, the Egyptian Tax Authority, as well as its employees — a process that had been halted after the asset freeze decision.

This impediment was addressed by the company in a previous statement issued on May 28. “In spite of this vicious and illegal attack, both newspapers were keen on following the proper legal procedures by filing an appeal to the committee. The committee, however, did not respond to our official request to appoint an entity to manage the institution so that we can pay our employees’ salaries, which have been halted for months in the frozen bank accounts.”

The statement added that both newspapers, as well as its employees and founders, do not belong to any partisan, political or religious entities. It added that both commit to an editorial policy “of a liberal nature.”

Thursday’s decision included the confiscation of assets owned by 16 people, including religious cleric Youssef al-Qaradawy, famously affiliated with the Brotherhood, and six of his family members.

The committee also confiscated the assets of the Arab Company for Commercial Contracts, owned by Omar al-Shenety, business analyst and chairman of the board of directors of the investment company Multiples Group, which owns Alef Bookstores.

While Mada Masr could not reach al-Shenety or an Alef Bookstores representative, General Coordinator of the Egyptian Publishers’ Association Sherif Bakr explained that the union is working on making sure the rights of publishers involved with Alef Bookstores are not jeopardized.

The committee also confiscated the assets of Cairo Portal Company for Publishing and Distribution, owned by Abdel Wahid Ashour, chief editor of al-Bawaba Portal website, also blocked since May.