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June 28, 2012 7:30 am

Fugitive and Mubarak Official Sentenced to 15 Years For Natural Gas Dealings With Israel

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Egyptian man waving his country's flag during 2011 protests. Photo: wiki commons.

In Egypt on Thursday, two men were sentenced to 15 years in prison for selling natural gas to Israel at below market prices.

Hussein Salam, an Egyptian businessman who was once a partner at the East Mediterranean Gas Company, and Sameh Fahmi, a former minister in the Mubarak led Egyptian government were convicted of “of exporting gas to Israel at below market value”.

“The Cairo criminal court sentenced former oil minister Sameh Fahmi and fugitive businessman Hussein Salem to 15 years in prison each over the (Israel) gas deal,”AFP quoted a source as saying.

In April of this year, Egypt reneged on its commitment to provide natural gas to Israel, citing payment issues from EMG.  This caused a wave of concern that diplomatic tensions would rise between Israel and Egypt, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to play down those concerns.

Shareholders of EMG were adamant that they were not behind on payments following the Egyptian decision in April, and in a statement released to reporters at the time, claimed the dispute was more than “commercial”.

The 15-year deal to send natural gas into Israel via Egyptian pipelines was signed in 2005.

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