Egyptian whistleblower Mohamed Ali has told MEMO how the army did not have to pay tax or customs on products entering the country which made it impossible for other businesses to compete.
“I would just include a document indicating that this belongs to the [army] and once it got to the port, I wouldn’t need to pay anything for it. All I needed to pay was the purchase and shipping costs.”
Ali described how the army imported large quantities of ceramics and sanitary ware, stored them and then sold them at market value making high profit margins. By contrast, a regular businessman had to pay customs and tariffs before their products even got to the warehouses.
“No one can compete with the army because it doesn’t have to pay any extra costs meaning it can stock a lot of products and then sell them at a lower price. They do this as a way to tell the Egyptian people ‘We sell things cheaper than the other shops.’ They convince the people that the army is selling things cheaper than the greedy shopkeepers.”
Former military contractor Ali rose to prominence in September after a series of videos he posted online detailing corruption within President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s inner circle were shared by millions.
Ali has since gone on to share detailed workings of the Egyptian military. In an interview with MEMO he said his company “built an extension” which, “I found out later, was used to house a cyber army.”
Since 2014 the Egyptian government has worked on a mass surveillance system to monitor social media. Passing legislation which allows the state to block social media accounts and websites with over 5,000 followers.