CAIRO: A Cairo Criminal Court on Thursday ruled in favor of businessman Hossam Aboul Fotouh and three Banque Du Cairo officials, acquitting them of extortion charges.
In 2003, the defendants were accused of facilitating and illegally appropriating a sum of LE 1.4 billion from the bank.
Yesterday’s verdict was obtained during a retrial in the Cairo Criminal Court which was initiated after lawyers appealed the Court of Cassation ruling sentencing the four to prison for durations ranging from seven to 15 years.
Multimillionaire Aboul Fotouh, former BMW agent in Egypt, had been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Chairman and member of Banque Du Cairo’s board of directors Bahaa Abdel Hamid El Ghazaly was given a seven-year sentence while both director of external transactions Ahmed Abdel Qader Metwally and chief accountant Fouad Khalil were slapped with 10 years behind bars.
The four were also obliged to return a sum of LE 408 million to the bank.
Lawyer Farid El Deeb had filed 12 appeals to that sentence based on fact that the case was originally filed as a state security case and that the criminal court had leveled jail sentences in breach of clauses in the banking law which do not include prison sentences.
El Deeb, however, said that Aboul Fotouh will not be released until negotiations between his client and Banque Du Cairo involving the repayment of LE 80 million are resolved. At that point, the bank will drop two other cases in which the court had ruled against him.
In April 2003 the Financial and Commercial Affairs Court had also cleared Hossam Aboul Fotouh of charges of evading customs for alcohol seized at his villa in Maadi.
Prosecutors had contested a previous court verdict acquitting him of the same charges, saying that they had seized a large amount of smuggled alcohol from Aboul Fotouh’s home and that customs duties for the goods were estimated at over LE 6 million.