Robin Hood style? Long Live Egypt Fund to accept donations from Mubarak-era convicted businessmen
Tahya Masr (Long Live Egypt) Fund would be open to donations from the secretary-general of Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, Ahmez Ezz, according to a member of the board of directors of the fund, businessman Salah Diab.
Diab asserted that they would accept donations from any Egyptian, including Mubarak-era leading businessmen, “donating for the fund is a completely different story” than their political history.
Steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz was reported to have announced his willingness to donate half of his wealth to the Long Live Egypt Fund after his release from jail on bail on Thursday.
Ezz paid last week the first installement of an EGP 100m monopoly fine, with the rest to be paid over nine-month installements.
Diab commented that he respects Ezz’s intentions to complete the legal procedures until the end through paying the fines.
The former chairman of Ezz Steel and the owner of 51% of its shares has been standing trial for two separate cases over three years since the outbreak of the 25 January Revolution. The first case was for the illegal acquisition of EGP 6.4bn in business deals related to his Ezz El-Dekheila steel plant. In the second case, Ezz was accused of illegal sales of steel licences.
All of Ezz’s appeals have been accepted after he had originally received a cumulative sentence of 60 years in prison for all of his cases.
Private newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported on Sunday that Ezz Steel’s board of directors are considering Ezz’s return onto the board following his release from jail, which has helped give a boost to the company’s share value.
Ezz Steel could not be reached for comment.
Head of Citizens against Price Rises Association Mahmoud El-Askanaly, who originally filed the case against Ezz regarding the illegal sales of steel licences, said that political reconciliation with the steel monopolist is “welcomed” only if he donates half of his wealth, which El-Askanaly estimated to be EGP 40bn.
Diab meanwhile noted that the fund’s board of directors is still discussing how the collected funds will be allocated, but said he had no information regarding the current total amount collected.
Following the inauguration of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in June, Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) Governor Hisham Ramez announced the opening of the Long Live Egypt Fund, whose name is based on the slogan of Al-Sisi’s presidential campaign. The fund’s bank account, “037037”, refers to the day on which Al-Sisi declared the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi.
Last week, during the inauguration ceremony of the Suez Canal Axis Development Project, Al-Sisi has called on Egyptians to participate in the fund, saying the country “needs around EGP 100bn” to implement a number of necessary projects, adding that collecting donations is the “only solution” to find funds.
Diab denied that the fund would be used to finance the Suez Canal project.
In efforts to urge Egyptians to donate to the fund, Al-Sisi has donated EGP 500,000 to the account and also declared that he would donate half of his salary.
In a move to force businessmen to donate, a campaign was launched in early August to track businessmen who did not donate to the fund, aiming to influence public opinion and prompt citizens to boycott their companies and products.
“This is an unacceptable campaign,” Diab commented, adding that no one should force anyone to donate.
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