CAIRO — Egyptian authorities charged one of deposed leader Hosni Mubarak’s most trusted men with corruption Wednesday, including the illegal acquisition of villas, lands, and apartments originally owned by the state.
Safwat el-Sherif, who served as the minister of information for nearly two decades, joins a long list of other former Mubarak cronies — businessmen, ministers, and others — to face trial over alleged corruption. Popular complaints of endemic graft in high-ranking government circles was one of the main drivers behind last year’s uprising that toppled the Mubarak regime.
The illicit gains branch of the Justice Ministry charged Sherif on Wednesday with using his position to illegally acquire villas, lands, and apartments owned by the state. It also accused him of receiving gifts worth millions of Egyptian pounds from chief editors in the state media in return for keeping them in their posts, as well as taking bribes from advertising and media companies in return for privileges.
The ministry demanded that Sherif, along with his two sons who also face similar charges, pay back $100 million to the state. No date has been set yet for the trial.
Sherif, who also served as the secretary-general of the now-dissolved former ruling National Democratic Party as well as the speaker of the upper house of Parliament, is already on trial in another case on charges of collaborating in the orchestration of attacks on peaceful protests during the 18-day uprising.
Also Wednesday, authorities placed on an airport watch list Ahmed Shafiq, who served as Mubarak’s last prime minister before narrowly losing Egypt’s first free presidential election after the uprising to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi.