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Egypt abolishes jail terms for businessmen to support economy 

An Egyptian trader counts his money at the Ashmun market in Egypt on 15 August 2018 [MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images]
An Egyptian trader counts his money at the Ashmun market in Egypt on 15 August 2018 [MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images]

Egyptian parliament has announced that laws which allow investors to be imprisoned have been scrapped over fears that imposing jail terms on businessmen affects investment in the country.

According to Arab News, parliamentary speaker Ali Adel-Aal said during a session that parliament will not allow investment to “escape” from Egypt, “so the idea of replacing imprisonment with deterrent fines must be reserved”.

“I will never allow the imprisonment of businessmen involved in financial violations,” Abdel-Aal said.

Ahmed Samir, the chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee in parliament, defended the move saying other countries have abolished penalties to protect the freedom of investors in order to support and encourage investment.

READ: BP invested $35bn in Egypt, despite widespread corruption

However, he stressed that investors do not enjoy absolute immunity and that there are crimes in which jail is necessary, including harming public money or the interest of the state or harming the health of citizens.

Ahmed El-Zayat, a member of the Egyptian Businessmen’s Association, believes that replacing jail terms with financial fines and providing new mechanisms to tighten control over economic business will raise the confidence of investors in the country’s economy. He said this will realise the state’s vision of increasing exports to $55 billion over the coming years.

The announcement comes amid reports that an Egyptian court acquitted two sons of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak of illicit share trading during the sale of a bank four years before the revolution which ousted their father in 2011.

Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, along with six other business figures, had faced charges of illegally profiting from the sale of the National Bank of Egypt to the National Bank of Kuwait in 2007. Among those acquitted is prominent businessman Hassan Heikal, son of the late journalist and political commentator Mohammed Hassanein Heikal.

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