Egypt refers former PM and finance minister to court

Ex-PM and FM will face charges of profiteering and squandering public funds.

Updated: Apr 17, 2011, 18:48 PM IST

Cairo: Egypt will put on trial the former prime minister and his finance minister on charges of profiteering and squandering public funds, the public prosecutor`s office said on Sunday.

No date has yet been set for the trial. But the military generals ruling Egypt since pro-democracy protests ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February are keen to show they are committed to holding to account members of the previous government, which many Egyptians saw as steeped in graft.

Former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif is now detained pending investigations and Youssef Boutrous Ghali, the former finance minister, is abroad.

The prosecution said the two men were charged with irregularities in procuring vehicle licenses, which the prosecution said cost the state about 92 million Egyptian pounds ($16 million) in lost revenue.

Habib el-Adli, the former interior minister, who is already facing trial on charges of killing protesters and graft, will be tried on the same charges.

Many investors and businessmen highly regarded Nazif and Boutros-Ghali for spearheading free-market reforms that helped boost economic growth to around an annual 7 percent in the three years before the 2008 global economic crisis.

The reforms included a sharp decrease in import tariffs, a flat income tax of 20 percent and a reorganization of the banking sector that included the sale of government stakes in joint venture banks and the privatization of Bank of Alexandria.

Many ordinary Egyptians, however, see Nazif and Boutros-Ghali as corrupt, a view that fueled the mass demonstrations that ended Mubarak`s 30-year rule.

Several former ministers and senior government officials are already facing trial for graft, including the former housing, tourism, and trade and industry ministers.

Bureau Report