Egyptian pound appreciates to highest in over two years

A man counts Egyptian pounds outside a bank in Cairo, Egypt October 24, 2016. (Reuters)
Updated 17 March 2019
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Egyptian pound appreciates to highest in over two years

  • The currency was trading at 17.34 to the dollar on Sunday, up more than three percent from 17.86 on Jan. 22 when it began its latest round of strengthening
  • “You’re seeing most of the indicators improving,” said Hany Farahat, senior economist at Egyptian investment bank CI Capital

CAIRO: The Egyptian pound strengthened on Sunday to its highest in over two years, boosted by an increase in foreign funds into the country.
The currency was trading at 17.34 to the dollar on Sunday, up more than three percent from 17.86 on Jan. 22 when it began its latest round of strengthening.
“You’re seeing most of the indicators improving,” said Hany Farahat, senior economist at Egyptian investment bank CI Capital. “Tourism, exports, substitution of natural gas imports with domestic production, remittances are at a peak, FDI is improving slightly.”
He also said the higher inflows were due in large part to Egypt scrapping a mechanism that guaranteed foreign currency for investors exiting the government securities market.
“Once the repatriation mechanism was abolished, it meant that every single inflow coming into the country reflects directly on interbank liquidity,” he said. “This, in tandem, should also reflect directly on EGP volatility against the dollar.”
“I think it has come a bit late. If the repatriation mechanism had been removed a year ago, this appreciation would have happened a year ago,” he said.
Since the central bank devalued the currency by about half in 2016, economists say it has closely controlled the value of the pound, which was last this strong in March 2017.
Allen Sandeep, head of research at Naeem Brokerage, said the higher inflows were also due to increased carry trade appetite for Egyptian treasury securities and improving balance of payments.
“We have now restarted LNG exports,” Sandeep said. “On an annual basis, assuming that we export 1 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas every day, that adds more than $2 billion in exports per year.”
Egypt, which now exports 1.1 bcf of natural gas per day, became a net exporter in late 2018, a significant turnaround for a country that spent about $3 billion on annual LNG imports as recently as 2016.


Unaoil’s former Iraq partner pleads guilty to bribery

Updated 15 min 56 sec ago
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Unaoil’s former Iraq partner pleads guilty to bribery

  • It is the first guilty plea to result from a three-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into suspected bribery and money laundering
  • Unaoil is a Monaco-based oil and gas firm

LONDON: The former partner in Iraq for Unaoil, a Monaco-based oil and gas consultancy, has pleaded guilty to five counts of bribery in the first conviction in a three-year criminal investigation by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
Basil Al Jarah, 70, pleaded guilty on July 15 to conspiring to give corrupt payments in connection with the award of contracts to supply and install single point moorings and oil pipelines in southern Iraq, the SFO said.
Al Jarah’s conviction, which comes six months before three other defendants in the case face a criminal trial in London, was announced after a judge lifted reporting restrictions in a pre-trial hearing on Friday, the SFO said.
Ziad Akle, Unaoil’s former territory manager for Iraq and Stephen Whiteley and Paul Bond, who worked for Dutch-based oil and gas services company SBM (Offshore), have pleaded not guilty.
Akle, 44, has been charged with three offenses of conspiracy to make corrupt payments. Bond, a 67-year-old former senior sales manager with SBM (Offshore), and Whiteley, a 64-year-old former vice president of SBM (Offshore) and one-time Unaoil general territories manager for Iraq, Kazakhstan and Angola, each face two counts.
Sam Healey, a lawyer at JMW Solicitors who is representing Whiteley, said his client “strenuously denied” all alleged offenses.
“Mr Whiteley co-operated fully with the SFO as they opened their enquiries and will rigorously defend the charges,” he said.
Lawyers for Al Jarah and Bond declined to comment. A lawyer for Akle was not immediately available for comment.
A spokeswoman for Unaoil declined to comment, while SBM Offshore has said it is company policy to not comment on past or current employees.