June 2, 2016 / 7:06 PM / 3 years ago

Egypt's former top auditor to face trial after alleging mass corruption

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks during the opening of the first and second phases of the housing project "Long Live Egypt", which focuses on development in the country's slums, at Al-Asmarat district in Al Mokattam area, east of Cairo, Egypt May 30, 2016 in this handout picture courtesy of the Egyptian Presidency. The Egyptian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s former top auditor Hisham Geneina was referred for criminal prosecution on Thursday on a charge of spreading false news about the cost of the country’s corruption, judicial sources said.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi sacked Geneina, who led the country’s top anti-corruption watchdog, in March after he publicly concluded that government corruption had cost the country billions of dollars.

Geneina became the target of fierce public backlash from senior officials and pro-government media after he gave newspaper interviews alleging that corruption had cost the country 600 billion Egyptian pounds ($68 billion)over a four-year period.

Sisi subsequently appointed a presidential commission that quickly concluded that Geneina had misled the public by overestimating the scale of corruption.

Khaled Ali, a defense lawyer representing Geneina, told Reuters his client was detained on Thursday after being charged with spreading false news and refusing to pay bail. Geneina will remain in detention until the first session of his trial, which is scheduled for Tuesday, Ali said.

Reporting by Haitham Ahmed, Mahmoud Mourad and Mostafa Hashem; Writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by Andrew Roche

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