Egyptian energy minister detained

Egyptian energy minister detained
# 22 April 2011 00:56 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Egypt’s public prosecutor has detained the former energy minister and five other ex-officials for questioning over a natural gas deal with Israel, APA reports quoting Press TV.

The new Egyptian government has been reviewing deals signed during ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule, Reuters reported.

General Prosecutor Abdel Maguid Mahmoud has brought former Energy Minister Sameh Fahmy and other officials in on allegations including profiteering, squandering national wealth and harming Egypt’s national interests.

The natural gas deal in question involved the selling of gas to Israel at prices far below market rates, allegedly incurring losses worth over $714 million to the country.

Under an arrangement put in place after a 1979 deal, Israel received 40 percent of its natural gas from Egypt. Four Israeli firms had held 20-year contracts to import Egyptian natural gas from Egypt’s East Mediterranean Gas (EMG) company.

Mahmoud also ordered the detention of Hussein Salem, a major shareholder in EMG and a former intelligence chief on Thursday.

An official at one of the Israeli energy firms, Merhav, has denied any wrongdoing.

The arrangement had been repeatedly challenged in Egyptian courts as it was signed without parliamentary consultation or approval.

Meanwhile, Mubarak himself and his sons are now under arrest.

Hosni Mubarak’s health is reported as unstable. The former president is now under guard in a hospital in the city of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Egypt’s public prosecutor is said to be considering moving Mubarak to a jail or to a prison hospital.

Mubarak has come under scrutiny on charges of violence against protesters during the Egyptian revolution in addition to corruption.

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