Egypt ex-media chief accused of graft

A corruption scandal has hit Egypt's best-known media tycoon days before presidential elections.

    Egypt's presidential elections are scheduled for 7 September

    Ibrahim Nafie, a long-time confidant of President Hosni Mubarak, allegedly received millions of dollars in hidden benefits, according to the El-Osboa newspaper on Monday.

    A former chairman of the Al-Ahram press group, Nafie was also alleged to have increased his $500,000 annual salary by cutting himself a daily commission of $14,400 on the groups' distribution and advertising.

    Before being replaced in July, Nafie also allegedly siphoned $70 million from the group's assets into his own accounts, the newspaper charged, alleging that banking and state institutions turned a blind eye.
      
    Documenting claims

    El-Osboa published facsimiles documenting the corruption allegations and detailing some of the payments made to Nafie and his close associates.
      
    The newspaper said that Nafie threw extravagant birthday parties in his private home every year and expensed them to the newspaper's account, totalling $43,000.
      
    Al-Ahram sells 600,000 copies a day, and the group employs about 10,000 people. It is the largest of Egypt's top three state-owned newspapers and the biggest press group in the Arab world.
      
    Nafie, who had been in charge of the group since 1979 and was also the paper's chief editor for more than two decades, was considered close to Mubarak and was often dubbed the president's "right ear minister".
      
    He lost his position as Al-Ahram chairman in July as part of complete revamping of the state press, which was believed to have been initiated by Mubarak's son Gamal.

    Nafie was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

    SOURCE: AFP


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