Uncertain future for Muslim Brotherhood’s businesses

By Doaa Farid and Sara Aggour

The 23 September court ruling ordering the disbandment of the Muslim Brotherhood organisation has raised questions about its potential effects on Brotherhood-owned businesses, especially as it also orders the confiscation of Brotherhood capital.

The head of the economic committee at the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), Abdullah Shehata, said the organisation currently has “no economic activities.”

“It’s a preaching and developmental organisation with a political arm,” he said.

Shehata, who was also an economic advisor for the former Minister of Finance, described the verdict as a “political ruling from an unspecialised court” explaining that it shows “bad intentions” towards every activity related to the Brotherhood.

“If I’m a member of the Brotherhood and have my own business, it will be ridiculous if the current rulers attacked my business because of my affiliation,” he said.

The court ordered the  “the banning of the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab Republic of Egypt and activities emanating from it, the organisation and any other institution which branched from it, belonged to it or received financial support or any kind of support from it.”

The urgent matters court also ordered the confiscation of “all real estate funds, liquid and transmitted, whether owned by or leased to the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The Minister of Justice’s office declined to comment about whether the verdict will include banning the business activities of Brotherhood leaders.

Meanwhile, Abdul Hafiz Al-Sawi, who sits on the economic committee of FJP said “the current rulers are [the ones] who have to discuss how this verdict will be implemented.”

Rights lawyer Ramy Ghanem said the Brotherhood’s capital and funds will include the capital of the founding committee of the association, however, major figures would not be affected. “The legal committee of the Brotherhood association didn’t write the name of business tycoons like Khairat El-Shater and Hassan Malek into the founding committee, in case of such a scenario,” he said.

According to Ghanem, the verdict will not affect the members of the Muslim Brotherhood nor their assets.

The North Cairo Criminal Court upheld on 17 September a decision by the Prosecutor General to freeze assets of prominent Muslim Brotherhood leaders and other Islamist politicians.

However, according to executive director for the Arab Network for Human Rights Gamal Eid, so far, no judicial decision allows for this asset freeze of the regular members of the Muslim Brotherhood organisation. “The assets owned by the organisation itself, as a separate entity, fall under the court’s arbitration, however, the assets of the members will not be confiscated or frozen.”

Eid added that this is a temporary decision until the court gives a final verdict whether or not to ban the activities of the organisation.

State-run Al-Ahram reported earlier in September that a committee was formed by the Illicit Gains Authority, the Public Funds Investigation and the Administrative Control Authority to examine the wealth of former President Mohamed Morsi.

The assets, accounts and shares of 21 senior Brotherhood leaders were frozen by stock market officials due to the investigations earlier in July. Banks operating in Egypt reportedly blocked accounts owned by many of the Muslim Brotherhood political figures, following instructions given by the public prosecutor.

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