Orascom Construction donates LE2.5 billion to ‘Long Live Egypt’ fund

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Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) announced the donation of LE2.5 billion ($360 million) to the ‘Long Live Egypt’ fund.

Reports suggested the donation is part of a tax dispute settlement with Egypt’s tax authority and OCI.

Last September, an Egyptian court endorsed a prison sentence for Egyptian business tycoon Nassef Sawiris, a judicial source told Reuters on Monday.

In July, billionaire Nassef Sawiris, Egypt’s richest man, was sentenced to three years in prison and fined up to LE50 million for failing to pay checks to the Egyptian Tax Authority.

Sawiris, aged 53, runs Orascom Construction Industries (OCI).

In March 2013, the Egyptian Tax Authority (ETA) accused OCI of tax evasion worth LE14 billion over the subsidiary of Orascom Building Materials Holding (OBMH) to the French cement giant Lafarge in 2007.

Orascom Construction sold its cement sector to the French cement producer Lafarge and the deal was implemented through the Egyptian stock exchange, whose transactions were tax-exempt at the time.

The Egyptian government reached an agreement with OCI during the terms of office of former president Mohamed Morsi, and decided to clear the names of Nassef Sawiris and his father from the travel ban list.

In April 2013, OCI reached a settlement over its tax dispute with the ETA, and agreed to pay the LE7.1 billion scheduled over four years.

As per the agreement, OCI was to begin with an initial payment of LE2.5 billion by May 2013, then follow it up with LE900 million by December, the sum for which the company is now facing investigation for non-payment.

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issued a presidential decree on Wednesday for officially establishing the ‘Long Live Egypt’ fund, the state’s news agency (MENA) reported.

Since it was announced in July by Al-Sisi, the ‘Long Live Egypt’ fund has received billions of Egyptian pounds in donations from organisations, businessmen and individuals. The fund aims to help boost the national economy, decrease poverty and develop slum areas.