“Employing money”… an old trap for deceiving the Egyptians

It was not new news for Egyptians about Mostafa Al-Bank, who was accused of defrauding a huge number of citizens in order to collect more than 200 million pounds ($11 million) in less than two months, it appeared in the 1970s and 1980s. 20th century, before this activity was transferred to individuals after the establishment of companies for collecting funds and investments was prohibited.

Each time the result was the same, which was the confiscation of that money and the disappearance from the eyes of its owners and the security services, because some of them managed to escape and others were arrested, leaving heartache, remorse, and sometimes illness. for those who were waiting for big earnings and benefits.

According to a statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Interior, Mustafa Al-Bank, who was arrested on May 12, collected 200 million pounds from citizens under the pretext of employing them in the cattle trade and persuading them to sell their cattle at prices that exceeded their fair value. , in exchange for deferring payment for a certain period.21 days, which is known as the “promise” system of trade known in Upper Egypt.

Dozens of questions

Since the beginning of this month, the Public Prosecutor’s Office has received messages from 3,922 victims from Aswan province, in the far south of Egypt. They gave money valued at more than £456 million (about $25 million) to 37 people to invest in exchange for profits. The statement of the State Prosecutor’s Office states that 28 cases are being investigated in which 37 persons are accused of “publicly inviting the public to receive funds presented in monetary amounts, cars and livestock for the purpose of investing in them in exchange for profit, and employed and their investment against under the conditions prescribed by law, with the proviso that they are not authorized to perform the activities of commercial companies registered with the Main Administration.” money market, as well as their refusal to return that money. The press release states that the State Prosecutor’s Office ordered the detention of 17 of them, as well as the arrest and detention of the other suspects who are on the run.

A week after the Aswan “restaurants” were exposed, 14 people filed charges against a person who managed to raise 50 million Egyptian pounds ($2.74 million) from them to invest in e-commerce in exchange for monthly earnings ranging between 30 and 50 percent. The State Attorney’s Office began investigating those complaints.

Also, security forces arrested “Haji Khaled,” who collected more than 230 million Egyptian pounds ($12.59 million) from nearly 2,300 citizens in the rural Kerdas area of ​​Giza Governorate, west of Cairo. The shock of his disappearance with the money led to the death of 13 people, according to local media reports.

Those who engage in this type of fraud are called “relaxed” by the Egyptian media, and all about “Ahmed Mustafa”, who was arrested in 2014 and emphasized the slogan “Win while you rest”, because he collected money from his victim under under the pretext of using them to trade in mobile phones and real estate, and was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in prison and a fine of 150 million Egyptian pounds ($8.2 million), with restitution of 266 million Egyptian pounds to his victims who filed lawsuits.

investing money

The beginning of the activities of the “relaxed” was in the seventies of the last century, with the appearance of money-employed companies whose work spread to all branches of the economy, so their number reached 60 companies, and they achieve high financial returns. which exceed the interest of banks, which doubled the demand for them, especially workers abroad, until the end of the eighties there was a dispute between these companies and the state, when it was discovered that the money of Egyptians was lost and transferred abroad for the purpose of speculation on international stock markets .

The Egyptian government issued a law in 1988 criminalizing unlicensed fundraising activities. The fate of businessman Ahmed Al-Rayyan, the owner of the most famous of these companies, was a prison sentence of 20 years in several cases, mostly for the use of funds. The total deposits of citizens in these companies amounted to more than 1.1 billion pounds. ($60 million), according to what was announced in 2006 by former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif. With his announcement of the permanent closure of the files of companies that employ money, by paying obligations to tens of thousands of families through a state guarantee, he paid out 85 percent of depositors’ money, while the income from the sale of the assets of those companies did not exceed ten percent of the volume of depositors’ money.

Leaving the bank

And with repeated reports of “relaxation” in recent years, questions have been raised about why citizens turned to these people to invest their savings, despite Egypt’s banks offering high-interest savings pods, the latest of which was a one-year savings certificates with an interest rate of 18 percent, from March. ) The past. Economic expert Hani Aboul Fotouh said that the recurrence of “unrest” is the result of “lack of awareness and lack of access of financial institutions to ordinary citizens.” He added in televised statements that these institutions “must work on their education and provide adequate financial resources that match their ideas and meet their needs, especially since most of these incidents occur in rural areas.”

According to Saeed Sadiq, a professor of sociology at American University, the quorum looks for people with limited education who suffer from “intellectual poverty” and takes advantage of their ignorance of the law to begin exploiting them financially. He pointed to the need to educate citizens not to resort to these fraudsters, pointing out in public statements that the banking sector should attract this segment and explain its services in a simplified manner, along with educating civil priests about their harmful influence, especially in villages. and rural areas, with fraudsters taking advantage of some people’s ignorance and promoting that bank interest is prohibited by law.

Islamic rule

Despite the issuance of an official fatwa by the former Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Mahmoud Shaltut, in 1963, which allowed doing business with banks, provided that a person voluntarily deposits his money in them, some people still raise this legal issue and question the legal decision of the banks. Many of the “relaxed” victims said that they did not deposit money in banks because they thought it was forbidden. In the 1980s, recruitment companies used some well-known priests to promote their services.

The sheikhs of the Salafi call in Egypt also adhere to the sanctity of doing business with banks and the fact that it is “usury”, and the Egyptian Dar Al Iftaa from time to time repeats its previous fatwas confirming the permissibility of doing business with banks and that it does not fall within the scope of usury after the recent changing the regulations, while Al-Azhar University professor Mabrouk Attia believed that in television statements, the sinner is the one who deposits his money with the “comfortable”, while the one who puts it in the bank “brings it closer to God” and contributes to the economy of his country.

However, the greed factor remains prominent among the reasons for the “comfortable” phenomenon, as Mustafa Al-Bank, who was arrested in Aswan, bought cattle at prices almost twice the market price for them, as one of his victims said he bought a cow for 60 thousand pounds (3281 dollars), and its fair price There are only 20,000 of them on the market (1093 dollars), which is why hundreds of people flocked to him to sell their cattle, which he gathered in a barn that he expanded on ten acres of government land, and this in the absence of government oversight, according to local media reports.

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Journalist Imad El-Din Hussein, a member of the Senate, described the victims of the “restless” as criminals, adding in an article in the Egyptian newspaper “Al-Shorouk” that the search for quick profit was the motive for the killing. savings with scammers in a story that is repeated from time to time in different details, noting that the returns that the scammers promise to the value of 50 percent per month, and sometimes more, are made only through illegal trade, and savers accept these scammers. .

The value of the money seized by the “loose” since their resurgence in recent years is not known, but according to what the public prosecutor’s office has revealed in relation to the defendants in Aswan, they collected more than 450 million pounds ($24.63 million ), revenues are certain. exceed billions of pounds.

the fate of money

The Egyptian Criminal Code stipulates that the perpetrator of the criminal act of fraud will be punished with a prison sentence of up to three years, but if he is the owner of the company through which he committed the crime, his sentence is from three to five years.

The fate of the money stored with these people on vacation is also ambiguous, as many of them find it difficult to prove the amount of its loss, in light of their reliance on oral and customary agreements in the presence of village elders who are considered guarantors of commercial transactions, as opposed to what happened in the eighties of the last century when the state closed companies employing funds that had books and an institutional framework that could be referred to in the return of depositors’ funds, which, of course, lost the interest value of these funds over the years.

It is difficult to get the full amount of money seized by a person at rest, because it is outside the official framework. For example, the Ministry of the Interior announced that Mustafa Bank collected about 200 million pounds ($10.9 million) from depositors, and found about 9.5 million pounds (about half a million dollars) during He was arrested, and the State Prosecutor’s Office inspected the farm where he kept cattle, ordered the sale of 447 cattle at public auction, which resulted in the delivery of five million pounds ($273,479) to the court treasury while the case is pending, along with other amounts that have been confiscated. The public prosecution has decided to prevent the 37 accused in Aswan from disposing of their money, and the law allows compensation for the victims, which will become clear as the trial begins and during the case.

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