Egypt court sentences ex-trade minister to 5 years in jail


An Egyptian court convicted former Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid in absentia and sentenced him to 5 years in prison for profiteering and squandering public funds, the state news agency MENA said.

Rachid, a regular at the World Economic Forum in Davos, lost his job in late January and fled abroad, only days after the eruption of the mass uprising that later ousted Hosni Mubarak.

He was an important face for Egypt in the commodities market as former minister of trade overseeing global wheat prices in the world’s biggest wheat-importing country, Reuters reports.

The Cairo court ruled that Rachid unlawfully seized public money from a government export development fund, leading to a waste of public funds, MENA said.

The court also ordered him to pay 9.385 million Egyptian pounds (983,833 pounds) in fines, MENA added. A judicial source told Reuters the court further ordered the former minister to return a similar amount.

Egyptian prosecutors filed formal charges against former officials and businessmen of abusing their position to enrich themselves and misusing public money after the uprising that toppled Mubarak in February.

Earlier this month, a Cairo court convicted former finance minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali in absentia and sentenced him to 30 years in prison for profiteering and abusing state and private assets.

Boutros-Ghali is widely viewed in Egypt as a public face of a government that enriched the wealthy at the expense of the poor.

The whereabouts of Rachid and Boutros-Ghali are unknown.

In another case brought against Rachid in February, prosecutors accused him of improperly giving production licences to steel magnate Ahmed Ezz, chairman of Egypt’s biggest steel maker Ezz Steel.

Ezz and Rachid have denied wrongdoing.