Egypt Watch

Egyptian authorities arrest CEO of largest food company on political charges

The Supreme State Security Prosecution ordered Saif Safwan Thabet, the CEO of Juhayna Food Industries, to 15 days in custody pending investigations over charges of co-financing a terrorist group. The security services arrested Saif, the son of the well-known detained businessman Safwan Thabet, from his residence in a compound in 6th of October city in Giza Governorate. As a result, at the first trading session on the Egyptian Stock exchange this morning, the company’s stock declined sharply, as it plummeted 17 per cent before its losses were later reduced to close down 10.55 per cent. 

Saif’s detention comes two months after his father, the former chairman of the company’s board, was detained in the same case which he joined. Case No. 865 of 2020 includes also the owner of the chain of stores Tawheed and Nour, Sayyed el-Suerki, along with Khaled al-Azhary and Hatem Abdullatif, the two former Ministers of Manpower and Transport respectively. This case is believed to be in context of the military’s pursuit to control major business activities in Egypt. They face several charges, most notably the financing of a terrorist group, membership of a prohibited organisation aimed at overthrowing the regime and spreading chaos in the country.  

It was a judicial commission set up by the government, which issued a decision in 2015 to seize the funds of Safwan Thabet, the former chairman of Juhayna’s board, before he was arrested in early December, for alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood. This was followed by his resignation from the company in January, and the appointment of his son Saif as CEO and acting chairman of the company’s board, before he was arrested yesterday, too.  For its part, Juhayna issued a statement to the stock exchange today, saying: “The imprisonment of the engineer Safwan Thabet, who resigned from the board of directors, is for personal matters of which the company has no business.”

Juhayna, Egypt’s largest producer of bottled milk and juices in Egypt, was founded in 1983, and exports its production to markets in the Middle East, America and Europe.