Despite the recent controversy surrounding him and the serious charges against him, Hisham Geneina, head of the Central Auditing Organization, remained calm and confident during his three-hour interview with Al-Masry al-Youm.
Geneina said President Sisi was not referring to him personally when he issued a decree that allows for the dismissal of the heads of regulatory bodies who prove to be incompetent.
“I still have a year,” he said. “But I will go if the President asks me to.”
He scoffed at the accusation that he is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and that he possesses weapons and Grad rockets. “The security services should be asked about that,” he said.
As a symbol of the “Independence of the Judiciary” movement, he believes there are attempts to liquidate representatives of the January 25 Revolution. According to Geneina, corruption has spread throughout the country for more than 30 years due to the absence of regulatory bodies, the violation of the constitutional and legal rights of the people and the collapse of morals and values.
Q: What do you think of the accusations against you that you are affiliated with the Salafi jihadists?
A: These are lies by the media and not accusations because the only body that can accuse is the judiciary. This was not the only lie. I was also accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, inciting for Rabaa and owning a nightclub run by my wife. And when this did not work, I was accused of belonging to the Salah al-Din Brigades in Palestine and of spying for Hamas. Even my mother in law, who is 80 years old, was accused of spying for Israel. I was also accused of keeping Grad rockets in my wife’s farm in Sharqiya. It is pathetic.
Q: But why were you accused of all that?
A: Beats me. I will not put myself on the defensive. Whoever has evidence against me let him present it to the authorities or I will sue him for libel.
Q: Is your wife and her family really affiliated with the Salah al-Din Brigades and Hamas?
A: Is marrying a Palestinian woman a crime? By the way, my wife has a Palestinian father and an Egyptian mother. They all lived here in this country, and she obtained the Egyptian citizenship. Her relatives have nothing to do with Hamas. Most of them work for the Palestinian Authority. Her cousin is a pilot for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Her other cousin was an ambassador to Libya. Other relatives worked for the Egyptian Judiciary.
Could they all be Hamas spies? Can the Egyptian citizenship be granted to a Hamas spy? Egyptian ethics forbid marring the reputation of respectable families.
Q: So why this attack on you?
A: I have information of an attempt to fabricate an espionage charge against me by businessmen close to a certain minister in order for me to turn a blind eye to their corruption. But I am sure they will be brought to justice.
Q: Your wife and members of her family have been to Gaza. Why?
A: This is normal. They go to visit their relatives. I myself went with my wife to bury her father there in December 2011.
Q: What about the farm in Sharqiya?
A: It belongs to my wife and her family. Is this a crime?
Q: Do you think you are targeted because you were appointed by deposed President Mohamed Morsi?
A: No. Morsi also appointed Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as Defense Minister and Mohammed Ibrahim as Interior Minister among many others in leading positions. As I said, it is an attempt to distract people from corruption cases that the Central Auditing Organization is investigating.
Q: Do you also think it is an attempt to get rid of the symbols of the January 25 Revolution?
A: By all means.
Q: What do you make of the decree that was issued by the president allowing him to dismiss the heads of regulatory bodies if they prove to be incompetent?
A: It was definitely not issued for me personally. It was not addressed to the Central Auditing Organization only, but to all regulatory bodies.
Q: Do you think you will complete your term?
A: I do not really care.
Q: What was the reaction to the decree?
A: It was widely rejected.
Q: Did you call for a conference to reject the decree?
A: No. In fact, I called on the employees not to stage any protests, although the decree abolishes guarantees provided to them by the Constitution.
Q: Why do you think the president issued the decree?
A: Based on the recommendation of his aides. They have to be honest and set their personal interests aside.
Q: Were they not?
A: I believe so.
Q: Had it to do with Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zind?
A: Of course. Why was it issued less than a month after he was appointed?
I was here under President Adly Mansour and one year under President Sisi. What has changed? Why have I suddenly become a threat?
Q: Why did you not ask to meet with the president over this?
A: I am sure he knows that the Central Auditing Organization supports him and helps him with the information it provides. But I will not run after him. I will go see him if he asks me to.
Q: What is your relationship with Zind?
A: No relationship, except within the framework of the legal role I play as president of the Central Auditing Organization. He tried to prevent our oversight of the Judges Club’s budget when he was its president.
Q: If you leave, would you go back to the judiciary?
A: I hope so. This is where I belong.
Q: Is the decree legal?
A: Article 20 of Law No. 144 for the year 1988 set by the Parliament says it is not permissible to dismiss the president of the Central Auditing Organization, a guarantee similar to that of the Prosecutor General.
Also, Article 215 of the Constitution says the opinion of the Central Auditing Organization should be taken as regards the laws relating to it, which was not mentioned in the preamble of the decree.
And Article 224 of the Constitution says all laws and regulations remain in effect and may not be modified or canceled until a law that regulates the work of the bodies that have a special law, such as the Central Auditing Organization, is issued.
I believe the decree is not meant to be applied to the Central Auditing Organization.
Q: So you think you cannot be dismissed?
A: Yes, but I need no law for that. The minute the president asks me to leave, I will.
Q: Are you not afraid you would be prosecuted with the fabricated accusations if you do so?
A: I believe in the great Egyptian judiciary despite misconducts by some. And I believe in divine justice. Leaving may be better for me than staying.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm