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Finance ministry mulls formation of ETA-Orascom committee: Former Head ETA

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Company was acquitted by the prosecutor general on the tax evasion case, invalidating the prison sentence on Nassef Sawiris

The imprisonment verdict against Nassef Sawiris has been suspended and rendered unenforceable. (DNE Photo)

The imprisonment verdict against Nassef Sawiris has been suspended and rendered unenforceable.
(DNE Photo)

The Ministry of Finance is currently considering the formation of a committee to solve ongoing issues between the Egyptian Tax Authority (ETA) and Orascom Construction Industries, former ETA head Ashraf Al-Araby told Daily News Egypt.

AhramOnline reported Tuesday that Nassef Sawiris, construction tycoon and CEO of Orascom Construction Industries (OCI), was sentenced in absentia to three years imprisonment on charges of tax evasion. The imprisonment verdict, however, has been suspended and rendered unenforceable.

“Sawiris was acquitted from the tax evasion case,” Al-Araby said. “This is a case regarding [non-payment of] cheques of the settlement that was reached between the authority and the company.”

In 2013, the company reached a settlement with the ETA, agreeing to pay EGP 7.1bn in ten instalments over the next four years. However, the prosecutor general acquitted the company from the case in 2014.

Al-Araby added that the next step would be the company’s appeal to the case and provide documentary evidence the issue has been settled. An official at the company said that “OCI has already filed a lawsuit to challenge the tax settlement enforced by the Muslim Brotherhood regime.”

“This lawsuit is fully based on the decision of the prosecutor general,” the official said.

“The lawsuit comes as a challenge to the non-payment of the second installment of the tax claim raised by Egypt’s previous [Morsi] regime,” Orascom said.

Orascom added: “The lawsuit was filed by the ETA prior to the prosecutor general’s decision 21/2014 issued on 18 February 2014, acquitting OCI S.A.E. of any wrongdoing.”

“It [the company] was also acquitted of any violation of Egypt’s tax laws, and thus did not take this decision into consideration,” the company also said.

This comes a day after Nassef Sawiris’ brother, Samih, told Reuters he does not plan to invest in Egypt “until there are changes [made] to the legal system to support and protect investors.”

Shortly after the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi, the Sawiris family had stated their intention to inject large investments to the Egyptian economy.

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