Illicit Gains Authority begins investigation into hidden assets of Mubarak-era tycoon Hussein Salem worth LE30 million

The Illicit Gains Authority (IGA) has initiated an investigation into the hidden assets owned by Mubarak-era tycoon Hussein Salem, according to local media reports.

The investigation comes more than two years after a report published by Mada Masr revealed that the funds and assets given up by Salem — a long-time associate and close friend of deposed President Hosni Mubarak — in a 2016 reconciliation deal struck with the IGA amounted to no more than a quarter of his real fortune.

Reports published by a number of local media outlets over the last several days, including Al-Dostour and Youm7, state that the authority has opened an investigation into allegations that Salem owns hidden assets worth at least LE30 million, citing IGA sources.

The sources told Al-Dostour that the IGA has received a report from the Administrative Control Authority (ACA)stating that the executive manager of a South Sinai-based company owned by Salem has been arrested, following the discovery of asset transfers worth LE30 million to another company in order to conceal these funds from authorities.

A dual Spanish-Egyptian citizen, Salem fled to Spain during the January 25 revolution, and has since faced a litany of graft charges that would have sent him to prison for decades had he remained in Egypt. He was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison on charges of misappropriation and squandering public funds in connection to a plan to sell Egypt’s natural gas to Israel at below-market prices. He was also handed a 10-year sentence for illegally selling electricity to bodies other than the Egyptian Electricity Authority.

According to the terms of reconciliation deal struck between the IGA and Salem in August 2016, Salem gave up in-kind and cash assets worth LE5.34 billion — which, at the time, he claimed amounted to three quarters of his fortune inside and outside Egypt — in order to lift freezes on his assets and remove his name and those of his relatives from airport arrival watchlists.

Salem submitted a list of his assets as part of the deal, which also stipulated that he was to give up any other undisclosed properties or funds prior to signing the deal, or else these assets would be seized by the government. As such, the assets worth LE30 million discovered by the ACA will be transferred to the state treasury after the IGA investigations are concluded, according to the IGA sources that spoke to Al-Dostour.

An official state-stamped document obtained by Mada Masr in 2016 revealed the names of 10 companies inside Egypt, as well as real estate properties, which are not among those given up by Salem and his family as part of the deal. The list submitted to the IGA also did not include any of Salem’s investments and profits in the petroleum sector, which constitute more than what Salem revealed of his wealth, which was reportedly worth LE7.5 billion prior to the reconciliation agreement.

The document also shows how Salem amassed a fortune by partnering with the government and transferring money via a complicated series of purchase and sale operations that passed through tax havens, in order to guarantee the secrecy of these operations.

Salem was acquitted of charges of squandering public funds in May 2017. He returned to Egypt in July of that year.

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