Property Rights in Revolutionary Egypt, Part I

As the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces cleans house, it has come out that HSBC’s investment bank was behind nearly all the dirty land deals that went down in the last years of Mubarak’s rule. From the Guardian:

Research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a not-for-profit body based at London’s City University, has concluded that HSBC:

■ raised more than £450m for two of Egypt’s biggest and most controversial property developers now embroiled in corruption court cases (shares in those companies have subsequently dived);

■ was the most active European investment bank in Egypt;

■ had on its Egyptian board two directors who in 2004 went on to become ministers of state overseeing land sales and privatisations under Mubarak.

My guess is a lot is going to come out about big crooked land deals in the next months. The cases are complicated and even lurid, such as the one involving the biggest real estate developer in Egypt, the Talat Mustafa Group (TMG). An Egyptian court sentenced the former chairman, Hisam Talat Mustafa, to death in the murder of a Lebanese pop star, a charge they later overturned.

I also have been hearing lots of rumors of land grabbing at the local level during the revolution (taking the opportunity to throw up a building on that abandoned lot while the permits office was on fire kind of thing). Specifically in Luxor, but also in Cairo. The army put in place a moratorium on any real estate transactions after they took control of the government, but there hasn’t been much about what has been going on in the property rights space. Stay tuned.

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