Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation and Planning Fayza Abul Naga
Cairo – Akram Ali
Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation and Planning Fayza Abul Naga revealed that as much as $ 200 million entered Egypt in the last six months, spent on activities of unknown nature with
the support of US organizations, and without informing the Egyptian authorities, which she considered suspicious and a threat to the sovereignty of the state. This is according to Abul Naga’s testimony, obtained by ‘Arabstoday’, in the Justice Ministry’s investigation on the foreign funding of the civil society organizations in Egypt, where Abul Naga, being a key witness, testified before Judge Ashram Shaamawi.
Abul Naga stated that through following up with the hearing of the Committee of Foreign Relations at the US Senate, dated June 21 2011, US ambassador to Egypt Ann Patterson stated that a number of organizations received foreign funding without informing the Egyptian government.
She stated that the US government, represented by USAID, provided 40 million USD to civil society NGOs following the January 25 revolution, particularly the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI), both unregistered and do not have permits to work in Egypt. Such political foreign funding, which was given on grounds of supporting democracy, is prohibited by countries worldwide, and was carried out without prior negotiations between the US and the Egyptian government.
“This was contrary to what was agreed upon, with accordance to the letters between the Egyptian Foreign Minister and his US counterpart,” she added. It also contradicted with the content of the letters between her, as the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, and US ambassador Margaret Scobey, which stated that direct US funding is limited to Egyptian NGOs that are registered in the Ministry of Solidarity and Social Justice, according to law 84 for 2002, and to US NGOs which signed agreements with the Egyptian Foreign Ministry and are permitted to work in Egypt.
In addition, the letters also stressed on the US commitment to notify the Egyptian government of all steps taken by the US government through USAID including providing financial funds to Egyptian and American NGOs.
Abul Naga’s testimony further stated that the money introduced to Egypt in the last period reached 200 million dollars, spent on unknown activities, which raised doubts and suspicions of the possibility of such large amounts of money being used in acts of sabotage.
She added that the abovementioned US organizations did not obtain permits from the Foreign Ministry or the Social Solidarity Ministry, and only had a small number of branches, however, in the past 6 months and following the January 25 revolution, these organizations started founding new branches in a several areas, which according to Abul Naga raises suspicion, particularly that the amount of money spent in the last 6 months exceeds the amount spent in the last 6 years, as indicated by Abul Naga.
Upon learning such information, Abul Naga presented the issue to the Prime Minister, who held a cabinet meeting which concluded that Justice Minister at the time, Mohamed Abdel Aziz Guindi, was to form a fact-finding committee on the amount of US funds to civil society organizations in Egypt and its uses. Accordingly, a report was submitted to the cabinet, including the names of the NGOS which received illegal foreign funds, and was transferred to the investigation judge.
Sources told ‘Arabstoday’ that once the case concluded, it is to be transferred to the criminal court, where suspects would be sentenced to maximum six months of prison and a penalty of not more than 2000 EGP, according to the law. Suspects include all who received such funds as heads or members of the organizations, and the penalty money is to be transferred to relief funds of local NGOs.
Same sources stated that the case will soon be concluded, and its results will be announced as soon as the technical committee of the Central Bank finishes their report, which would further clarify the amounts of money introduced to the country and given to each organization, whether Egyptian or foreign, in order to place criminal charges against organizations who received funding to conduct political activity prohibited by the Egyptian law.