Spokesperson for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s presidential campaign, Mohamed Abu Shaqa, invited journalists to read Sisi’s financial disclosure report during the campaign’s first press conference on Monday. The report, he said, is published in the Official Gazette and is available online.
Sisi donated half of his wealth to the state-owned philanthropy fund Tahya Masr (Long Live Egypt) in 2014, Abu Shaqa went on to say. This contribution is reflected in the significant drop in the president’s personal wealth, he said, as highlighted in the 2018 report, which was published in the Official Gazette in January.
The president is required to submit a financial disclosure report upon taking office, leaving office and at the end of each year while serving as president, according to Article 145 of the Constitution. The financial disclosure report must then be published in the state-owned Official Gazette.
Mada Masr decided to take the spokesperson’s advice, and went in search of Sisi’s reports on the website of the General Organization for Government Printing Office (Alamiria), which prints the Official Gazette, to no avail.
Undeterred, Mada Masr visited the printing press’ office and requested copies of Sisi’s financial disclosure reports from 2014 and 2018 from the electronic publishing department. The department issues archival copies of the gazette with an official stamp to citizens for a small fee.
However, the employee behind the desk said that no financial disclosure reports for any government employee have been published by Alamiria before. The employee asked, “who told you that the Official Gazette had published a financial disclosure report for Sisi?”
Another employee searched for the issue of the gazette said to contain Sisi’s 2014 and 2018 financial disclosure reports, but came back empty handed. We were then told to ask the general manager of the gazette whether financial disclosures have ever been included in the weekly publication.
The prime minister, Cabinet members and members of Parliament are also obligated by articles 109 and 166 of the Constitution to submit a financial disclosure report upon taking office, upon leaving and at the end of each year they spend in office. However, the gazette is only required to publish the reports of the president and Cabinet members.
At the employee’s suggestion, Mada Masr went to the office of Mohamed Abdel Khalek, the director general of the Official Gazette. He too told us that no financial disclosure reports have been published, either for the president or any other government employee.
It is the Cabinet’s responsibility to send documents to the gazette for publishing, but Alamiria has never received any financial disclosure reports, before or after the 2014 Constitution, according to Abdel Khalek. “The Cabinet is the body that should be held accountable, and made to adhere to the Constitution. We just publish what we are sent.”
Sisi’s financial disclosure report was submitted to the National Elections Authority (NEA) on January 24, alongside the other paperwork required to qualify for candidacy in Egypt’s presidential election, according to NEA Executive Director Alaa Fouad. However, he told Mada Masr that the authority considers this a confidential document and so it will not be made available to the public.
Article 12 of Egypt’s presidential elections law (Law 22/2014) specifies that individuals applying for candidacy in an election must submit a financial disclosure report, in accordance with the illicit gains law (Law 62/1975).
Mada Masr reached out to Abu Shaqa to inquire about the missing report, but Sisi’s campaign spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
The illicit gains law stipulates that the president, the Cabinet and a number lower level public employees are required to submit a financial disclosure report for themselves, their spouse and any children under 21 years of age to the Justice Ministry within two months of taking office, and again within two months of leaving office.
The 2014 Constitution is the first Egyptian constitution to stipulate that the financial disclosure reports of the president and the government must be published in the Official Gazette and made available to citizens, professor of constitutional law and deputy head of the State Council Mahmoud Zaki told Mada Masr.
In Zaki’s opinion, the unavailability of financial disclosure reports demonstrates how officials tend to sidestep the Constitution, and in this case are facilitated by the fact there is no penalty stipulated for not complying with its requirements.