CAIRO: Egypt’s construction guru Hisham Talaat Moustafa was referred to the Cairo Criminal Court Tuesday in connection with the murder of Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim, according to a statement released by Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud.
In the statement, the prosecutor general identified two defendants – Moustafa and Mohsen El Sokkary – in the homicide of Tamim in Dubai on July 28.
Moustafa was arrested and charged on Tuesday with ordering the brutal killing of the Lebanese singer.
Former police officer El Sokkary was charged with killing Tamim in return for $2 million from Moustafa.
The prosecutor general banned both defendants from travel after Moustafa, who is a member of the Shoura Council (Upper House of Parliament) was stripped of the legal immunity he enjoys as a member.
Moustafa is also a member of the ruling National Democratic Party.
Officials at Talaat Moustafa Group (TMG), a multi-billion pound real estate developer, could not comment on the details of the arrest and the murder by press time.
On Monday, the company had denied rumors about the chairman but officials declined to comment in detail.
Following Moustafa’s arrest, the company appointed his elder brother Tarek as chairman, which should reassure investors, the company said.
Hatem Nassar, communications consultant at the group, said the new chairman was the head of the housing committee at the People’s Assembly.
“He has a very good reputation, and this should reassure people, Nassar told Reuters.
News of the investigation has taken its toll on TMG’s stock as shares of the group skidded to an all-time low Tuesday on heavy selling pressure.
Shares of the company – Egypt’s largest real estate company by market value – led declines on Tuesday and plunged 15.97 percent to LE 5.21, weighing on Egypt’s stock exchange.
On Monday, the stock shed 8.12 percent to LE 6 per share, as investors heavily sold in the shares responding to renewed market rumors about the firm’s chairman.
“The [news] that emerged took a free-fall on the stock, said Mohamed Radwan, trader at Pharos Securities.
Radwan added that the stock has been losing money on a daily basis since rumors started about the company’s chairman in early August.
Rumors that Moustafa fled the country were openly discussed on local satellite channels linking him with the murder of Tamim.
In an attempt to dispel rumors, Moustafa had appeared twice on Egyptian national television Aug. 10, calling for a crackdown on the spreading of false information that he warned could shake confidence in Egypt’s financial institutions and, in turn, the economy as a whole.
During his intensified media appearance, he called on investors to double check the facts before deciding to sell in a stock.
Investors were exiting the stock in search of better opportunities in other companies, Radwan pointed out. “TMG has been having huge selling pressure, as foreign and gulf investors are exiting the stock in search of other opportunities.
Trading turnover on the stock reached LE 260 million on Tuesday.