[JURIST] An Egyptian court on Thursday found former housing minister Mohamed Ibrahim Soliman guilty of corruption and sentenced him to a total of eight years in prison. He was charged with violating laws regulating tenders and auctions including profiteering, illegal seizure of state land and squandering public funds. During his term from 1993 to 2005, Soliman was involved in corrupt land deals with various private entities, two of which were involved in the present case. In the first case, Soliman and Magdi Rasekh [Al-Ma'rifa profile, in Arabic], former chairman of Six of October Development & Investment Company (SODIC) [corporate website] and father-in-law of ex-president Hosni Mubarak's son Alaa Mubarak, were sentenced to five years for profiteering, squandering public funds and illegal acquisition of state land. The court also ordered them to repay 81 million Egyptian pounds that they received from the corrupt land deals and a fine equal to that amount. In the second case Soliman assigned residential land belonging to the ministry to Komi and Hazeq, businessmen, at a price lower than the market value. Soliman was charged with illegal acquisition of state land and squandering public funds, sentenced to three years of imprisonment and ordered to repay 34 million Egyptian pounds plus a fine equal to that amount. Additional defendants were sentenced on Thursday including Ezzat Abdel Raouf Abdel Qader, former head of the New Urban Communities for Real Estate and Commercial Affairs Sector, and Fouad Madbouli, Hassan Khaled Fadel and Mohamed Ahmed Abdel Dayem, former General Authority for Urban Communities officials. In total the defendants are responsible to a fine of around 2 billion Egyptian pounds ($330 million).
Corruption has been an ongoing problem for the Egyptian government. In November Human Right Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] criticized [JURIST report] Egypt's attempt to deal with corruption because the new law to be implemented would allow authorities to imprison anyone convicted of crimes involving "political corruption," which the organization alleges are vaguely defined, as well as deprive convicted persons of their rights to vote and run for office. In September an Egyptian criminal court sentenced three associates [JURIST report] of Mubarak on charges of corruption including illegally manipulating state-owned businesses, granting licenses without merit, misusing public funds and profiteering. In the same month, the former tourism minister was found guilty [JURIST report] of corruption charges. In July, another Egyptian court convicted [JURIST report] former prime minister Ahmed Nazif and two Cabinet officials of corruption and sentenced them to various prison terms.