- Human RightsInterviewsMilitary TribunalReform Issues
- December 1, 2007
- 15 minutes read
Interview with MB Businessman Hassan Malek
Ikhwanweb has held this interview with Hassan Malek, a prominent businessman and a top member of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). He is currently in prison along with other 39 MB leaders topped by MB second deputy chairman Khairat Al Shater, on charge of money laundry and of funding MB activities.
Ikhwanweb: Give us a brief account about your life and the most important achievements in the world of business.
Hassan Malek: I was born in 1958 and graduated from the Faculty of Commerce, Alexandria University in 1980. My family mostly works in business and industry. My father, May Allah rest his soul, had a famous factory for textile and ready-made clothes. I learned from him secrets of the business and worked with him in his business at the beginning of my life.
I started my first own business in early 1980s by establishing a software company called Salsabeal company in 1986 and it expanded to become the biggest company in this field and received at that time international brands in the computer system and software.
The number of its branches in Egypt reached 5 and its activities became numerous in a few years. I also established several companies in various other fields, including Malek Trade and Ready Made Clothes Co., Rawag Furniture Co, in addition to other companies in the field of industrial raw materials and electronics. I have been dealing in exports and imports with more than 10 countries. The branches of my companies and exhibitions of these companies mushroomed and my staff reached more than 400 workers and employees.
Ikhwanweb: Why has the Egyptian regime froze your assets and assets of other MB businessmen in a precedence not previously carried out agins the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in other crackdowns against the moderate group.
Hassan Malek: This serious escalation was due to untrue tips from the security services making the regime think that these companies funded the Muslim Brotherhood in 2005 parliamentary elections. The regime thought also that these companies funded the Muslim Brotherhood group in some of its other activities. This is actually untrue. There is no evidence to prove this and I still challenge any one to show me a single evidence to prove this. Also, I noticed in this case that these security services want feverously to defame all honorable role-models in the trade and industry fields and they want also to intimidate trade and industry business owners who do not blindly follow the Egyptian regime.
Ikhwanweb: What are the fallouts of the regime”s measures of shutting down your companies in this case?
Hassan Malek:It is a self-evident fact that the worst danger on investment is not respecting law and court rulings. Our case witnessed a host of violations to law, causing so many bad effects including:
-A number of foreign companies stopped its investments in Egypt , including a big company with which I have personally inked a deal on establishing a big factory for making and exporting furniture. After preparing everything including legal papers and place, this company along with several other companies canceled these deals and escaped from Egypt .
-Also the stock exchange in Egypt got in disarray at the beginning of our case and the rate of drawing money from various banks in Egypt increased.
-The most important point is distorting the image of Egypt all over the world. Any political disagreement should never reach people”s sources of living through shutting down companies without any legal foundation or even any final verdict.
-As for the fallouts on my business and properties, this case has had very serious effects. Some foreign companies which I have dealing, cancelled their agreements and cancelled their proxies from. Many of domestic deals with companies have been cancelled. These companies stopped dealing with my companies, causing endless financial losses.
Ikhwanweb: Are there any other negative effects due to applying these measures and directing all these charges against your companies?
Hassan Malek: Definitely, there are countless negative effects. The intervention of the security services in our life affairs in general and particularly in the economic life is a serious factor in itself. The security factor is always topping all other political, economic or social considerations. This makes me fell sure that the security services never took into consideration the consequences of such measures, like making jobless the thousands of people working in these frozen companies. Many business stopped and investments escaped and jittering stock exchange and drawing bank deposits.
Ikhwanweb: How far have these measures affected you and your family?
Hassan Malek:Let your imagination fly when you know that young children see heavily armed predawn visitors (state security forces) break into the house of their father with their black clothes turning its upside-down seizing any moneys they find and take even the jewels of their mother, dishevel furniture and arrest this father in front of their eyes and take him to the unknown fate. This actually reminded the children of what the Jewish soldiers do against the Palestinians, specially that they know that their father is not a criminal and not a thief. They know that their father is a role-model in good manners and straight conduct. These children know that their assets have been frozen (the decision includes preventing wives and underage children) and that they can”t make use of their money.
Ikhwanweb: Regarding the confiscate jewels and money, we heard that your safe has been stolen
Hassan Malek: When this huge number of state security officers, soldiers and plainclothes elements stormed into my house, they entered my bedroom and turned it upside down and they searched even my wife”s wardrobe in which they found a small safe and I told them that it is my wife”s and it contains her and her daughter”s jewels. The officer insisted on opening it. When I opened they found gold and jewels and he insisted on taking a photograph of these jewels and taking the safe among other sequestered. I asked him to list its contents in an official report and he said that this will be written in the prosecution. Then, they took the safe along with many things from the house including important papers related to my business and my properties. I didn”t see this safe except 8 months later when the military court decided to list the sequestered items taken from my home. I went to the military prosecution which summoned the state security officer who took the safe from my house. I was surprised to find the safe empty when they opened it although the officer admitted in front of the prosecution that he confiscated this safe. So far, I don”t know where is my wif”s jewels and the state security prosecution sent several message to the military court, in which it confirms that investigations about this are still going on.
Ikhwanweb: Back to the effects of the charges against you in this case, is there any other effects.
Hassan Malek:I have spoken about the negative effects of these incidents on my children and my family. However, there are some positive effects, including:
-I feel that Allah is protecting me and my family.
-Although my children feel the pain of this oppression and injustice, they are- despite their young age- to end it. They have founded an association for the children of detainees to defend their fathers and defend their cause. This is a positive feeling, not to surrender to injustice and to work for ending it.
– I felt that my children have quickly become grown up young men and young women on whom I can depend in the future because they were obliged to depend on themselves during this period.
– I received sympathy solidarity and support from all neighbours, friends, clients and suppliers of our companies even from those not so close to us. Thanks god, my reputation and the reputation of my fellow brothers makes people know that we are oppressed and they pray for our release.
-I am currently bear the fruits of attitudes and values which I have taught my children and other people around me.
-Despite all these positive sides, but they are sidelined by a bitter feeling of oppression due to these false accusations.
Ikhwanweb: What are the charges against you in this case?
Hassan Malek: The charges are:
-Belonging and leading a group that uses terrorism as a means.
-Possession of leaflets.
Ikhwanweb: What is your defense in response to these charges?
Hassan Malek: There is no in evidence in the case papers to prove that thes charges are true, except for the fully fabricated memo of the investigations submitted by a state security officer which he attributed to the so called classified sources. Nothing proves that we held any secret meetings. All charges are groundless and have no legal foundation.
As for the money laundry charge against us, it is actually a big farce because the only body authorized to direct such a charge is the anti-money laundry unit in the central bank of Egypt , not the state security prosecution. Add to this the fact that the committee that they formed to study this charge acknowledged in front of the court that it didn”t find in any if our papers any evidence that we received any money from any foreign or domestic body and tnat nothing proved that we did any moneys laundry. The big scandal is that they directed this charge without reading the papers sequestered and added to the case file.
Add to this the scandal that the report about our companies was given to the military court one full month after we were referred to it in a flagrant violation to law. Also, this committee belongs to the anti-graft institution, not to the anti-money laundry unit in the central bank.
Finally, they have manipulated the sequestered items and added to them items which don”t belong to us. The court proved that they added items and that they stole all precious items belonging to me. The scandal of stealing my wife”s jewels proves this.
Ikhwanweb: The financial committee has reportedly criticized your companies for not taking money from banks, what is your comment on this?
Hassan Malek:This criticism is actually a source of pride, because we didn”t take the easy way of taking loans from banks. Our companies and capitals developed naturally due to their market success and good reputation. This very committee is also the one that recognized in front of the court that it found no paper in our companies to prove that we received any foreign or domestic funding. Since I started my business 23 years ago, no one accused my in any trade or financial fraud case, while such cases against others make headlines on a daily basis.
Ikhwanweb: Have you previously faced any political charges?
Hassan Malek:Yes, in 1992 and it was unfortunately the same awful scenario in the so called Case of Salsabeal Company. In February 1992, after 7 years of hard work making Salsabeal company one of the biggest computer company in Egypt and the Middle East, they accused me along with partner engineer Khairat Al-Shater of belonging to, and attempting to revive the Muslim Brotherhood group and attempting to hold a coup and threatening social peace, the same repeated and silly charges. Due ot this, my company was closed and I remained in prison under provisionally detention with no fair trial or any evidence to prove these charges. I was released after that to find my company closed and my business stalled.
Ikhwanweb: You said that the capitals in your companies have naturally development without depending on loans and any other source. Al-Ahram newspaper spoke about the size of your capitals from the beginning of this case, but we noticed conflicting reports about the size of these capitals.
Hassan Malek: Unfortunately, some newspapers have copycatted, since the case began, false reports of the State Security Police. They even published full texts of kilogram gold in my house while the court found the safe empty after my wife”s own jewels were stolen.
Ikhwanweb: Regarding the financial committees report, the testimonies of the witnesses have been reportedly conflicting and your defense accused them of forgery sometimes and of injustice at other times.
Hassan Malek: tFirs: I “d like to explain that we were surprised that this committee was formed by the anti-graft institution although the charge is money laundry. Law no. 80 of the year 2002 about money laundry entitles another insitiution to study such charges, the anti-money laundry unit in the central bank of Egypt is the only one authorized to study the case and report to the court about such cases.
Second: We were surprised that we were referred to the military justice before completing this report although this charge was directed since the investigations began and until the first session of this court, in which the military chief justice acknowledged that the financial report hasn”t been sent to the court yet.
Third: After preparing the report, we were surprised our assets have been overblown after adding assets which don”t belong to us in order to give an incorrect image about our financial status.
Fourth: When the defence started to discuss these figures with the financial committee, this financial committee disavowed reports in which our assets are exaggerated under the pretext that these figures were prepared by others and that it (this committee) doesn”t believe these figures and doesn”t depend on them.
Fifth: Interrogating witnesses in the court proved that there are several fallacies and forgery in measures and an unjustified prejudice in using words and drawing conclusions, something that made this report technically incorrect in addition to the illegality of the decision of forming the committee.
Ikhwanweb: What is your expectations towards the results of this case after all these illegal violations which you mentioned?
Hassan Malek: I am sure that all defendants will be cleared and acquitted after it has been proved that there is no evidence to support these groundless charges.
Ikhwanweb: What about your life in prison?
Hassan Malek:Thanks god anyway, the prison is finally a prison. We were born free. However, to say the truth the prison administration noticed that we are respectable, that we respect ourselves and respect the prison system. So, it dealt with us in a good and decent manner. There are instructions which it must carry out. For example, blocking any contact between any prisoners, especially politicians, and any other guest and papers aren”t allowed to enter the prison. For example, you have been allowed to hold this interview with me only after taking a court order.