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Egypt’s ex-auditor jailed for blowing whistle on missing $76bn

Hisham Geneina was found guilty of 'spreading false news to disturb public order' after saying $76bn had vanished from nation's coffers
Egyptian judge Hisham Geneina, the former head of Egypt's Central Auditing Authority, the country's anti-corruption agency (AFP)

Egypt’s former leading auditor, who was fired earlier this year after he said that corruption had cost the country a staggering $76bn over the last four years, has been handed a one-year jail term, Egyptian court officials said.

Hisham Geneina, who oversaw the Central Auditing Organisation, has been found guilty of “spreading false news to disturb public order” and has been ordered to pay a 20,000 Egyptian pound ($2,200) fine. He has been freed on $1,000 bail pending the appeal, reports said.

“This is the maximum penalty, and we will appeal,” his lawyer, Ali Taha, said on Thursday.

Geneina was sacked back in March. Authorities vowed to investigate his claims but shortly after the fact-finding commission was founded it ruled that Geneina had grossly exaggerated the claims by using data from before 2012, while he insisted that the report only focused on the years after. He denies any wrongdoing and insists his calculations are accurate.

If Geneina’s estimates are true, corruption would be siphoning off around seven percent of Egypt’s annual Gross Domestic Product every year.

Geneina was appointed by former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi who was overthrown in 2013. Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has since been banned and tens of thousands of its supporters arrested, with Morsi’s successor Abdel Fattah al-Sisi launching a brutal crackdown on most forms of opposition.

The auditor first openly clashed with Sisi last year when Geneina openly denounced the president for giving himself the power to dismiss heads of regulatory bodies, calling the move unconstitutional.