UPDATE 1-Egypt court overturns freeze on assets of 23 investors
CAIRO, March 20 (Reuters) - An Egyptian court overturned on Wednesday a public prosecutor's decision to freeze the assets of 23 investors and officials, including several from the Gulf, who are under investigation for alleged stock market manipulation.
The criminal court ruling was announced by Judge Assem Abdel Hamid Nasr. Earlier this month, the public prosecutor's office ordered the freeze on assets of the investors while it investigated the 2007 sale of Egypt's Al-Watany Bank to National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), an official in office said.
Egyptian state media said the investors included five Saudis and two from the United Arab Emirates, as well as employees of a number of banks and the Egyptian stock exchange.
The case was the latest in a series of high profile actions against leading business figures by Egyptian authorities, including tax investigations and travel bans.
These have shaken economic confidence which is already weak due to Egypt's political and economic turmoil since the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak in 2001.
On Monday, a source at NBK, Kuwait's biggest lender, said the bank had nothing to do with the matter. "All these transactions took place before NBK acquired its stake in Al-Watany Bank," said the source, adding that NBK had gone through an auction process which included several other bidding banks.