CAIRO: Khaled Serry Siam, chairman of the Egyptian Stock Exchange, said in a press conference Monday that the decision to resume trading was taken by him as well as the head of the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA) after a meeting with Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq Sunday.
Siam said that he had asked Shafiq for political support and for him to do everything in his power to urge investors to invest all they can in the market and help the economy.
He added that all the different viewpoints of all the stakeholders regarding the stock market’s opening, as well as all of the risks involved, were conveyed to the Prime Minister and all relevant stakeholders including an International Advisory Board.
Egypt’s stock exchange has been closed for a month and is scheduled to reopen Tuesday.
During the meeting with Shafiq, the resignation of Ziad Bahaa Eldin, formerly the head of EFSA, was discussed as well as his new role as the head of a committee to formulate conflict of interest policies.
“We need a law for conflict of interest, not only on the ministerial level but for any public servant and if this law were in place in the beginning we would not have had all these cases of fraud and corruption,” Siam said.
He urged the media present to take heed of the saying “all those accused are innocent until proven guilty” describing the ongoing onslaught of rumors surrounding various public figures as detrimental to confidence of investors in the stock market.
Siam outlined EFSA’s new rules and regulations that were announced earlier this week which aim to reduce sharp fluctuations in prices at the start of trading, and insuring that all measures are taken to prevent transactions for those individuals whose assets have been legally frozen by the Prosecutor General.
Regarding fraud and corruption charges, Siam said that they have been working very closely with the Prosecutor General’s office.
“Since day one we have been in touch with the Prosecutor General and we have been taking immediate action in freezing the trading of those individuals, and we have even asked the Prosecutor General not to make any sentences public during the trading session and to restrict any statements to before and after trading as a security measure,” he said.
To help small investors, Siam announced a LE 250 million fund was created to support investors who were most affected by the fall in the stock market, which fell by 16 percent in the two days before it was closed.
Small Investor Associations who were present criticized Siam and the authorities for not doing enough to protect them. They questioned his affiliation to the National Democratic Party and accused him of being just “a puppet for the regime.”
The associations suggested that more funds should be made available and that there are more funds at the disposal of the bourse’s chief and the head of EFSA that are not being utilized to protect the small investors whose assets have been financially jeopardized by the drop in markets.
They accused Siam of taking the decision to resume trading in favor of the larger investors, and said that the bourse should not open until more transparency is realized in terms of corruption and fraud in the boards of various companies.
Security personnel asked the association’s representatives to leave after they repeatedly interrupted proceedings. Both sides then clashed verbally leading to some pushing and shoving. Siam left the hall but was quickly followed by members of the press and the associations who convinced him to return and promised that they would listen to his remarks.
Siam returned to the conference and explained that all measures that could have been taken to protect all types of investors in the market were taken and that there is nothing more he could do at the present time.
Those investors who had been on the margin, or through credit facilities, would be supported by the fund which Siam announced will be doubled after a meeting with brokerage firms which was scheduled for later in the day.