CAIRO - Egyptian Housing Minister Ahmed el-Maghrabi said Monday that the $3 billion Madinaty deal of the Talaat Moustafa Group (TMG), the property development company, was "successful and sound" in its timing and execution.
"When the deal was taking place the ministry's policy mainly focused on pushing the cycle of development and in attracting investors with stimulus packages," el-Maghrabi explained.
Investigations started earlier this year after Members of Parliament accused the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA), a body under the Housing Ministry, of wasting public money when it sold the 8,000 feddans (8,304 acres) of land on Cairo's outskirts to TGM. Earlier this month the Higher Administrative Court upheld invalidating the deal.
Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif has set up an ad-hoc committee to study the Madinaty case, which started its meetings on Sunday night. The committee is reviewing the latest court ruling by the Higher Administrative Court and a legal way out, the Mail has learnt.
President Hosni Mubarak stepped in on Sunday, ordering an impartial and independent legal advisory committee be put in place to "resolve the Madinaty case".
El-Maghrabi had announced on Sunday that the Egyptian Cabinet would meet Wednesday to discuss ways of finding a resolution to the Madinaty dispute.
The Cabinet spokesman said last week a legal solution to the issue which has rattled investors, who are concerned that other land deals in the property and construction sector could be challenged would be sent to the Prime Minister within days.
"The Wednesday meeting will seek a solution that takes into consideration not just the Talaat Moustafa case but all real estate firms in the country," said Abdel-Hamid el-Shaer, media adviser to the Housing Ministry.
Analysts say the debate revolves around a 1998 rule stipulating that State property sales must be effected by auction. But, until 2006, the NUCA had sold land directly under a law that preceded the 1998 rule.