I know that my point of view about reconciliation with former minister of industry Rashid Mohamed Rashid will be met with objection by many, but I invite you to look at the issue with more neutrality.
Last week, the committee concerned with recovering misappropriated funds has made a decision to reconcile with Rashid after he paid EGP 500m. The payment followed extensive studies about the accusations directed towards him and the submission of files that prove him innocent while showing that the money he and his family invested was allocated before he became minister in 2004.
The Cairo Criminal Court had issued a verdict stating that the criminal lawsuit against him would end, as well as all precautionary measures regarding three cases, namely illicit gains, seizure of the Export Development Fund’s money, and wasting public money in the Industry Development Fund.
First, I will give an overview of the man’s history and background.
Rashid is a famous businessman from a wealthy family. He has a group of companies which he inherited from his father in Egypt and abroad. He assumed high positions in boards of directors in many companies, and the membership in local and regional organisations specialised in economic, educational, social, scientific, and political activities.
Rashid became the minister of industry and foreign trade in Ahmed Nazif’s cabinet in 2004, and the ministry of internal trade was adjoined to his ministry later. During that phase, Rashid led an important phase in the history of Egypt’s industry with increasing competitiveness with global markets.
He tried to strengthen the market internally and fight against monopoly. He got into a famous conflict with Ahmed Ezz during the drafting of the new monopoly law in 2008, to object to the practices of the National Democratic Party in the parliament.
After the 25 January Revolution, Egyptian prosecutors announced a travel ban on Rashid and froze all his assets in banks for the violations he committed. He was in Dubai when he learned about the decision from the media. On 5 July 2015, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced him to five years in prison for wasting public money. The court also fined him EGP 2m, and ordered that he pay an equal amount to the state’s treasury as a form of compensation.
On 15 September 2011, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Rashid to 15 years imprisonment in absentia. In May 2013, Rashid reconciled with the state; however, many other cases were filed against him in court despite of that.
After this summary about Rashid, I wonder whether the charges raised against this man are of political nature and directed at his association with ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s to regime?
Did the rulings against him have clear evidence, or were they investigations that could be twisted to serve the goal of accusing anyone who assumed an official position in Mubarak’s era?
Rashid is a man Egypt needs right now. He did not make illicit gains from his job because simply, he did not need to as a successful wealthy man who earned his money from his years of hard work.
I have one last thing to say. Now that Rashid has recovered his dignity today, I salute the investigation agencies for this, and I ask them to look into similar cases of people who were in office during Mubarak’s era.
Hany Aboul Fotouh is a banking expert.