Egypt freezes assets in NBK-Watany deal

CAIRO, March 18, (RTRS): Egypt has frozen the assets of 23 businessmen while it probes alleged stock market manipulation during the 2007 sale of Egypt’s Al-Watany Bank to National Bank of Kuwait, an official in the public prosecutor’s office said.

Egyptian state media said the businessmen included five Saudis and two from the United Arab Emirates, as well as employees of a number of banks and the Egyptian stock exchange.

The official confirmed a report on state TV and the website of newspaper Al-Ahram that the decision was taken “pending investigations being conducted by the public prosecutor regarding them (the businessmen) in the case of manipulation of stock market funds, and participating in profiteering in regard to the sale of Al-Watany Bank of Egypt to National Bank of Kuwait.”

A source at NBK, Kuwait’s biggest lender, said the bank had nothing to do with the matter: “All these transactions took place before NBK acquired its stake in Al-Watany Bank.”

NBK bought the stake in an auction process which included several other bidding banks, the source added. “The sale took place under Egyptian central bank supervision and after obtaining all the necessary regulatory approvals.”

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