Muhammad Hamed / Reuters A Bedouin honour guard marches before the arrival of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Amman, December 11, 2014. 

Sisi and His 40 Thieves

Why Corruption Lingers in Cairo

On December 9, 2014, at the headquarters of one of Egypt’s most powerful anti-corruption bodies, the Administrative Control Authority (ACA), Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb gathered state officials to inaugurate Egypt’s newly drafted four-year national strategy for combating corruption. The timing was auspicious; it was International Anti-Corruption Day.

The officials met in a large, white room filled with sky-blue chairs. Minister of Interior Mohammed Ibrahim (since sacked) was there, along with ACA Chairman Muhammad Amr Heiba (now replaced and made an advisor to President Abdel Fattah al Sisi), Advisor to the Minister of Justice Azzat Khamis, and Khalid Saeed, chairman of the technical secretariat of a body now known as the National Coordinating Committee for Combating Corruption.

Sunlight streamed in from the windows onto the white walls. Mehleb boasted about Sisi’s success in moving Egypt up 20 places on Transparency International’s latest annual Global Corruption Perception Index—from 114th place to 94th out of more than 170 countries. Apparently, it is a family affair. One of Sisi’s sons, Mustafa, is an officer at the ACA and part of the graft clean-up crew. In April, he claimed to have helped the security service Amn el-Dawla bring a case against seven government contractors and officials who were accused of paying and soliciting a total of $170,000 in bribes  within the Red Sea governorate’s Executive Agency for Drinking and Sewage Water.

Our year-long investigation, based on leaked documents and insider accounts, reveals a slew of corrupt practices and an abject failure to curb corruption by these very groups who claim to be combating it.

But our year-long investigation, based on leaked documents and insider accounts, reveals a slew of corrupt practices and an abject failure to curb corruption by these very groups who claim to be combating it. For starters, Egyptian officials hid at least $9.4 billion of state funds in thousands of unaudited accounts in Egypt’s Central Bank, as well as in state-owned commercial banks, and spent it by the end of the 2012–13 fiscal year.

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