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Nassef Sawiris imprisonment verdict suspended

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Company says lawsuit was filed by the ETA prior to the prosecutor general’s decision to acquit the company

The imprisonment verdict of Egyptian billionaire and the CEO of Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) Nassef Sawiris has been “suspended and rendered unenforceable”, the company said in an official statement.

AhramOnline reported Tuesday that the construction tycoon has been sentenced in absentia to three years imprisonment on charges of tax evasion.

“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,” the company said.

In March 2013, Egypt’s Tax Authority accused OCI of tax evasion. The company reached an agreement with the government to pay back the Tax Authority in ten installments from 2013 till 2017.

“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,” the company said.

“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 added.

This comes a day after Samih Sawiris, Nassef Sawiris’s brother, told Reuters that 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.