Recent claims made by media outlets that the Ministry of Finance was prepared to pardon individuals accused of trafficking arms, drugs and artifacts are false, according to a legal source within the ministry.
Customs and tax laws on income allow the ministry, or another body they have delegated power to, to pardon those accused of customs or tax evasion, the source added. The ministry has agreed to take such steps based on calls made by stakeholders to help achieve the national interest.
The source added in a statement released Friday that he had worked for more than 20 years to establish a committee of various experts to review requests presented to the ministry for pardons and for violations of these laws. In 2013, the finance minister authorised Law 405, which reviews the pardon requests of those accused of less than EGP 15,000 in customs and tax evasion charges.
The source stated that he was keen on protecting the country’s national security and the well being of citizens and that pardons would not be granted to those accused of importing illegal or banned goods such as drugs, phone tapping devices, transmitters and artifacts, even if these items were less than EGP 15,000.
Final decisions on requests for pardons will be made by the Minister of Finance after requests are submitted to the Pardoning Committee. He emphasised that clear and strict rules will only allow pardons to be granted to cases that fall within that which is dictated by public interest. Those seeking pardons are to surrender all banned and smuggled goods in their possession after repaying taxes and compensation.
The source stated that the Pardoning Committee is not required through its commission to approve all requests presented in front of the Ministry of Finance, saying that it can reject claims that threaten the public interest and national security. He said that so far the committee had not received requests to provide pardons to individuals accused of hurting the well being of citizens.
Members of the committee will address requests professionally, and not take into account personal preferences when making decisions, or their relationship to individuals working in the import-export sector. Committee members will not lose any powers to perform their functions as long as they have no personal interest in any of the requests presented before them.
He stated the ministry is interested in cooperating with media outlets and benefits from publications and broadcasts, calling on all outlets to be scrupulous, objective and impartial in their investigations and to work to serve the in national interest during such turbulent times.