Thursday, August 25, 2016

Egyptian Summer Tales : The Geneina Saga

Now,  this is the most controversial political summer tale of 2016: What happened to Egypt's former top auditor and his family for attempting to expose the tip of the corruption berg in the country.

In late July, a Cairo misdemeanour court sentenced Egypt's former top auditor Hisham Geneina to one year in jail and a LE 20,000 fine for "spreading false news to disturb public order" over his statements in 2015 that the cost of corruption in Egypt's public sector in since 2012 was over LE 600 billion.

The court also set LE 10,000 bail pending an appeal which he paid immediately to avoid jail till appeal only.
That was a major milestone in Hisham Geneina Saga that reached its peak in 2016.

Geneina was the head of Egypt's top auditing agency, the Central Auditing Organization "CAO" or as it is being called now in English Accountability state authority "ASA" officially for a reason beyond my knowledge.

Found in 1942, the CAO or the ASA is Egypt's top auditing authority supervising the public sector.
Hisham Geneina
Hisham Geneina in the offce "AP" 
He gained national and international attention since his dismissal by a presidential decree issued in late March but going through the archives shows that the Geneina saga went back a bit further beyond his famous study about the cost of corruption in Egypt.

For me, it was more than a study about the cost of corruption in three years.

Old history, an old nemesis 

Appointed in September 2012 by ousted President Mohamed Morsi as the head of ASA, Hisham Geneina was among the known judges in the Judiciary reform movement started in 2005 against Mubarak and his Judiciary authority law if you remember.

Geneina was already the undersecretary of the Judges club then and in 2008 he ran as the candidate of the reformist judges against the Mubarak regime's candidate then Ahmed El-Zend over the club's presidency. El-Zend won. In 2010, Hisham Geneina opened his fire on El-Zend accusing him of winning the Judges club's elections by cheating.

Judges Hisham Geneina and Zakaria in 2009
Judges Hisham Geneina and Zakaria in 2009
Since 2012, his fights with former minister of justice/ex-head of judges club and ultimate nemesis of reformist judges Ahmed El-Zend became a regular news item with a long exchange of libel and defame lawsuits and soon enough that fight would extend to their offspring but let's move slowly here.

In April 2013, sources began to speak in the media about how the ASA exposed a huge corruption case involving Ahmed El-Zend. That case was brought up back by Ahram Arabic Gate with files in September 2014.

In the same month, Geneina said a very important statement that people forgot.

He stated publicly that the minister of defence then Abdel Fattah El-Sisi agreed to put the Egyptian armed forces' commercial activity under the ASA's supervision yet other powerful state institutions rejected the ASA supervision like the General intelligence which got commercial projects as well a law against that administrative supervision.

"This does not mean we want to interfere in the work of those institutions but everybody must understand that the ASA will keep an eye on the public money whenever it is," He said.

Then came the ouster of Morsi on 3 July.

During those days, Ahmed Zend was described as one of the leaders of the "30 June Revolution" as he led the judges' protests against the Muslim Brotherhood.

In the upcoming months, there would be a purge movement against both reformist and MB judges alike in the Egyptian judiciary. Almost all the famous icons of the reformist judges movement either were forced into retirement or jail except Hisham Geneina.

Declaring his support to 30 June and its results, Geneina continued in his position as the head of the ASA thanks to the Constitution and the ASA's law. No one could dismiss him from his position according to the law then.

Opening the gates of hell

In February 2014, Hisham Geneina began to release information about wide money squandering in several public sectors including the presidency and security apparatus.

In March 2014, Geneina held a press conference declaring that the ASA filed 933 corruption complaints about corruption in the public sector including judiciary and prosecution to the prosecutor general since he became the head of the authority but those complaints were not investigated.

He also said that in that press conference, the ministry of interior refused to cooperate with the ASA despite the authority discovering that the financial corruption in the ministry and its slush fund was estimated then by LE 2.5 billion.

He estimated the size of the financial and administrative corruption reached LE 200 billion annually in 2012-2013 in the public sector alone.

Those statements with numbers and incidents would open the doors of hell on Geneina as well as his family. Pro-regime media would accuse him that he were a Muslim Brotherhood and that his wife was a Palestinian with Hamas connections.

In April 2015, Geneina and his family appeared on TV to prove that they were not Muslim Brotherhood or Palestinians but rather an Egyptian secular patriot family that participated in the 30 June revolution.

The beginning to the end

On 9 July 2015, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi entered that ongoing-state institution confrontation against Geneina directly when he issued Law No. 89 for the year 2015 that granted the Egyptian president the right to depose the heads of four major independent state financial and regularity bodies in Egypt.

Those institutions are the Central Bank of Egypt "CBE", the Administrative Control Authority "ACA", the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority "EFSA" and the Accountability state authority "ASA", which was headed by Geneina then.

According to that law, the President can depose the chairmen of those agencies and authorities if there is strong solid evidence that the official comprised Egypt's national security or interest or that official is proven to be morally incompetent or his health condition prevents him/her from doing his/her job.

Everybody knew that this controversial law was tailored specifically to get rid of Hisham Geneina.
This law also was considered unconstitutional by many law and constitution experts as it violated article No.215 of the 2014 Constitution which stipulates those regulatory bodies should be consulted regarding the laws related to their work.

Also, it was issued before we would have the parliament. "The House of Representatives would approve it anyway in January."

Personally, I think this law got damage beyond Geneina as we giving the president the right to dispose of those who monitor him or her and other state institutions in the country.

On 21 July 2014, Geneina spoke with Mada Misr about the attempts to oust him accusing Ahmed El-Zend by name of standing behind that presidential decree.

It was a matter of time before El-Sisi would take that decision.

On the 7th of December 2015, President Sisi appointed Hisham Badawy, minister Ahmed El-Zend of justice assistant for corruption as a deputy for Geneina. It was a sign.

The LE 600 billion study  

On the 24th of December 2015, Youm 7 newspaper quoted Hisham Geneina saying that the cost of corruption in Egypt reached LE 600 billion based on a study made by the ASA.
Within hours, that statement caused huge controversy in the media. Sooner, the ASA issued an important statement to clarify the matter.
Geneina did not say that the cost of corruption in 2015 in Egypt was more than LE 600 billion but he said that the ASA made a study based on the reports of the authorities from 2012 to 2015 and that study estimated the cost of corruption in those years reached to more than LE 600 billion.  

Hisham Geneina in 2015
Hisham Geneina in his office in 2015 "Agricultural Ahram" 
Two days later, President El-Sisi declared that he formed a fact-finding committee headed by the head of the Administrative Control Authority "ACA" and representatives from the ministries of Planning, finance, interior and Justice in addition to Hisham Badawy.

Interestingly, the ministries mentioned above are subjected to ASA's supervision and Geneina accused officials in ministries of interior and Justice of corruption.

In a live Facebook interview with Al-Araby TV last week, Geneina revealed that already he sent to the presidency a copy from that study two months before his public statements and all the reports included in that study also were approved by the Presidency and state institutions.

The El-Sisi's fact-finding committee concluded its work on 12 January 2016 accusing the former reformist Judge of deliberately defaming state authorities with false claims.

The president referred the report of the fact-finding committee to the parliament and Hisham Geneina vowed to fire back at that report with another detailed report.

To this day, we do not know what the parliament actually has done so far about those reports.

Pro-regime so-called independent lawyers had begun in 2014 to shower the General Prosecution and High state security prosecution with legal complaints against Geneina and so an investigation officially started against him.

Ironically, he used to be a state security prosecutor before becoming a judge !!

On 20 January 2016, the Prosecutor General issued a gag order about the general prosecution's investigation concerning the former top auditor's statements.

On 28 March 2016, the State security prosecution accused him of exaggerating the sums lost to corruption by referring to violations that took place prior to 2012 and abusing his position as the top auditor in gathering confidential documents to make his case.

Hours following the state security prosecution's statement, President Sisi issued his decree to dismiss Hisham Geneina from his position.

He later appointed Hisham Badawy, Geneina's deputy as the head of the ASA.

Following his dismissal, Wall Street Journal quoted Geneina's lawyer Ali Taha saying that his client was under house arrest. Later, the lawyer denied that Geneina was under house arrest "as it will need a court order" but it turned out that the security did not allow people to visit Egypt's former top auditor at his house then !!

On 23 May 2016, the ex-top auditor was summoned by State security prosecution for a hearing there over his controversial report.

On 2 June 2016, the State security prosecution referred the former judge to court for spreading false news after he refused LE 10,000 bail and decided to stay in detention.  After one day, He paid the bail and was released after one of his daughters was rushed to the hospital.

On 15 June 2016, Mada Misr published in Arabic the controversial LE 600 billion study releasing it to the public for the first time. According to economic journalists like Wael Gamal, the study was actually touching the tip of the corruption iceberg in Egypt professionally speaking.

Weeks later, another Geneina daughter made headlines.

A new presidential decree was issued to dismiss Shorouk Geneina from her position as an administrative prosecutor. It turned out that she posted a Facebook post on her personal Facebook account mocking former Justice minister Ahmed El-Zend !!!
Hisham and Shorouk Geneina
Hisham and Shorouk Geneina
"Shorouk Geneina Facebook page

The little Geneina, who is an animal rights activist was appointed by a presidential decree in 2014 as an administrative prosecution ironically.

After that incident, screenshots of El-Zend's sons mocking and insulting Geneina went viral as well but they were not dismissed from their jobs as judges.

You know, there are judges who used to mock public figures and express their highly politicalized opinions and yet they are still judges who sentence people to death and to life in prison in politics-related trials and cases so easily !!

Then on 28 July 2016, the misdemeanour court said its word sentencing Geneina to one year in jail and LE 20,000 as a fine for spreading false news in addition to another LE 10,000 bail to suspend the rule till the appeal.

He paid the bail and started to appeal against the court's rule.

Recently, he made a comeback in the media with lengthy interviews on Al-Araby TV and Al-Masry Al-Youm where he spoke about how he was threatened by some kind of corruption lobby made of influential officials and the cost of corruption in the Egyptian public sector in those 4 years is more than LE 600 billion.

It is worth mentioning that during that time, Geneina gained a lot of popularity among some revolutionaries who considered him as a good civilian candidate for the presidency.

Yet, the man shuts down all the calls telling him to run for the presidency or even lead the opposition but repeats his total respect and support for El-Sisi in all his interviews for the current time.

A fact that since 1942, the head of ASA never has been under fire or created such controversy as Geneina.

This is the tale of Geneina this summer and I do not know if it has ended or not. 


  1. Counter-revolution is like a pendulum, it doesn’t stop at eliminating the impact of Jan 25 revolution, but continues to smash the roots.

    Ironically, while Geneina is punished, his corruption report will be used to periodically target selective scapegoats considered dispensable by the regime. More heads will be falling like minister of supply. The level of corruption of this minster is within the norms, yet he didn’t win a bronze medal in competing for loyalty to the chief.

  2. Surprise....
    And we hear about poverty (bad housing
    For families, street children, ...)
    Egypt is Rich country.
    The 25th January Revolution IS UNDERSTOOD.

  3. Every country where power is king, is corrupted government. Ours as well. Its disgusting to moral people.


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