On 6 July, the North Cairo Criminal Court acquitted former Egyptian Minister of Finance, Youssef Boutrous Ghali, of long-standing corruption charges in a retrial of the ‘Customs Corruption Case.’
Youssef Boutros Ghali, whose uncle Boutros Boutros Ghali was U.N. secretary general from 1992 to 1996, served as Egypt’s Minister of Finance under former President Hosni Mubarak. He held the title from 2004 until the 2011 revolution that overthrew Mubarak’s rule.
Following the uprising, the former minister fled the country and has since been exiled in the United Kingdom, which has no extradition agreement with Egypt. In June 2011, he was convicted in absentia to thirty years in prison.
In what has become known as the ‘Customs Corruption Case’, Ghali was found guilty of allowing the official use of private cars which were then held in customs, without their owners’ consent.
The prosecution alleged that Ghali used 102 cars, of which he allocated six to his personal convoy and 96 cars to other entities. At the outcome of the investigation, he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison and ordered to pay over EGP 70 million (then equivalent to approximately USD 11 million) in compensation and fines for ‘profiteering and abusing state assets.’
Ghali’s lawyers filed for a retrial of the Customs Corruption Case, which was granted in 2020, leading up to the present acquittal.
After the 2011 uprising, Ghali faced various additional legal charges, one of which resulted in his conviction in absentia to 25 years in prison over alleged corruption in a transaction involving coupons used for the distribution of subsidized cooking gas.
He was later sentenced in absentia to another 10 years in a different case related to the alleged squandering of public funds but was acquitted of the charges in November 2022.
Speaking to the news website Cairo 24 shortly after his acquittal, Ghali stated that he plans to return to Egypt soon but does not intend to engage in politics. Asked whether he would be willing to consult on public financial matters in the country, the former minister noted that he would be open to such consultations if requested from him, but prefers “to stay away from public political work.”