Government Fact-Finding

Cost of Corruption in Egypt

Established by:

President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi

Mandate

To determine the accuracy of a Central Auditing Organization report which found that corruption between December 2012 and 2015 had cost Egypt 600 billion Egyptian pounds (LE) to investigate alleged public funds abuses, to release findings to the general public, and to further economic transparency.

Methodology

To question the head of the Central Auditing Organization Hisham Geneina, to evaluate his methodology in preparing the report in question, and to analyze the study that acted as the basis for the report. The fact-finding committee consulted with finance and corruption experts, who studied the report for 14 days.

Named Members

The director of the Administrative Control Authority, the vice-president of the Central Auditing Organization, and representatives from the Ministries of Planning, Finance, and Interior.

Findings

On January 12, 2016, the fact-finding committee released a press release summarizing its findings to the media. The committee determined that the corruption report authored by Geneina was deceptive because it exaggerated the scale of corruption within the Egyptian government. The committee report argued that Geneina made five errors:

  • He counted the same financial abuses multiple times.
  • He included irrelevant abuses from the 1920s, as well as abuses from the year 2015 that were too recent to verify.
  • He referenced violations already addressed judicially.
  • He “manipulated numbers” by classifying debt and LE134.64 billion in allocated, currently unused project funding, as corruption.
  • He used an “arbitrary and unrecognized” definition of “corruption.”

The fact-finding committee concluded that Geneina’s untruthful report damaged Egypt’s reputation on the world stage and in the eyes of civil society.

Recommendations

The committee did not make any specific recommendations publicly available.

Analysis

The fact-finding committee largely failed to offer new information or useful recommendations because it did not develop a methodology based on its mandate; instead of seriously investigating the corruption cases described in Geneina’s report, the committee appeared to conduct its investigation with the sole purpose of discrediting Geneina’s methodology and findings. As a result, the press release that the committee issued to the public reads more like an opinion piece; its language is harsh and biased against Geneina, not only criticizing his work but personally accusing him of “misleading” “exaggerating” and “omitting” information with political intentions.

In its press release, the fact-finding committee often failed to provide examples or to justify most of its claims. Transparency was lacking throughout the process, particularly as the prosecutor-general had issued a gag order on Geneina’s report during the investigation, preventing the media from monitoring or reporting much on the fact-finding process.

The report’s criticisms of Geneina’s findings are also questionable because the fact-finding committee spent two weeks investigating, while Geneina’s figures were reportedly based upon an entire year of research. Despite the degree to which it received media attention and shook public opinion, the contested LE600 billion figure was never verified by the fact-finding committee, raising questions about its priorities and commitment to investigation.

After the fact-finding committee’s press release was issued, Geneina accused the committee of making investigative errors and promised to issue further research. In the wake of the release and these comments, Sisi removed Geneina from his position; Geneina would later be charged and sentenced for spreading false information by way of the corruption report.

Report

The committee’s findings in the form of a press release is available here.