Cabinet took the decision to export gas to Israel, says witness

Former Prime Minister Atef Ebeid's cabinet assigned the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG) to export gas to Israel by direct order on 18 August 2000, said Amr Hassan al-Arnaoty, a member of the Administrative Supervisory Authority on Thursday.

Arnaoty is the fifth witness to testify in court about Egypt selling natural gas to Israel at lower than market rates.

Accused in the case are former Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmy, five other Petroleum Ministry officials, and fugitive business tycoon Hussein Salem, who owns 70 percent of EMG.

He added that the cabinet set the quantities, the 15-year duration of the contract with Israel, and the low prices, which were to fall between a minimum of US$0.75 and a maximum of US$1.25 per million thermal units, unless the Brent crude oil reached US$35 per barrel, in which case the maximum price would be US$1.5.

He said that in 2004 the petroleum minister delegated the president of the petroleum authority to sign a contract with EMG for that purpose.

Arnaoty said that he did not know if the Egyptian intelligence services played a role in the deal.

Asked about the role of former President Hosni Mubarak in the deal, Arnaoty said he stood by the original testimony had gave to the prosecution.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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