Monday, February 09, 2009

The Egyptian Madoff

The Daily News Egypt reports:
Broker Mahmoud El Boushi of Optima Securities Brokerage, who allegedly pilfered around $68,422 million and €200,000 from his clients, was arrested earlier this week in Dubai, but was granted bail after he reached a settlement with an Egyptian businessman in an AED 5 million dud check case.

However the same businessman filed another complaint involving AED 21.9 million [$2.5m -EoZ], according to Khaleej Times, a UAE-based newspaper.

Over 48 Egyptians, including high-profile public figures, had also filed complaints to Egypt’s Commercial and Financial Affairs Prosecution office against Mahmoud El Boushi, accusing him of fraud.

Last Tuesday, the Interpol requested from the Emirati government to hand over El Boushi to the Egyptian authorities, the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, Major-General Khamis Matter Al Mazeina, said.

Last week there were some articles about this Boushi, who swindled millions from Arab celebrities, but only now do we see that the amount he stole might be significantly worse than Bernie Madoff's alleged $50 billion.

The comparisons are eerie. Like Madoff, Boushi promised high returns to his clients (actually much higher than Madoff - 40%) and he targeted high-profile clients:
The list includes famous actress Laila Olwi, said to have lost more than $500,000 dollars, Mervat Amin, another cinema star, losing almost the same amount, and her ex-husband, actor Hussein Fahmi, who lost $2 million.

Mahmoud al-Khatib, former footballer and the current vice chairman of Egypt's Al-Ahly Club (lost $6 million) and Hassan al-Gabali, the brother of Egypt's Minister of Health Hatem al-Gabali (lost $12 million) are also among those named as victims, according to the list published by Rose al-Youssef Egyptian daily.
I can only find the huge $68 billion figure from the Khaleej Times, but it if is true, this could have a huge impact in Arab financial circles.

And of course we can expect plenty of articles about Arabs agonizing over how Boushi could besmirch all Arabs by doing this, how embarrassed they are that he shares their culture and religion and how it will increase Islamophobia. Right?

UPDATE: Almost certainly I was reading the decimal point wrong, and it is $68 million, not billion.