The attorney general ordered Thursday the detention of former Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmi and seven senior former energy sector employees for 15 days pending investigations into allegations a gas deal they brokered with Israel harmed national interests.
Attorney General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud also ordered the imprisonment of businessman Hussein Salem, a close friend of former President Hosni Mubarak.
The attorney general's spokesman said in a statement that the energy officials are accused of wasting public money by exporting gas to Israel at prices lower than international standards.
The resulting loss to Egypt was about US$714 million, according to the statement. The attorney general will announce more details of the case within the coming days.
The senior employees in custody include Mahmoud Abdel Latif, vice chairman of General Authority for Processing and Manufacturing Gas, Hassan Aql, former vice chairman of General Authority for Oil Production, Ismail Hamed Karara, former vice chairman of the General Authority for Oil Planning, Mohamed Ibrahim Youssef Tawila, former chairman of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company, and Ibrahim Saleh Mahmoud, former chairman of the General Authority for Petroleum.