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Saudi prince gives up contested Egypt land – MENA

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal says won't contest decision; Prosecutor says bought twice the legal area allowed

April 12, 2011 3:47 by

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has given up a claim to land in Egypt that was frozen by the country’s public prosecutor, Egypt’s state news agency reported on Tuesday.

The prince said he would not go to international arbitration to contest the prosecutor’s decision that the purchase of the land at Toshka in southern Egypt violated the law, MENA said.

The public prosecutor has been investigating business transactions and the finances of officials under former president Hosni Mubarak since mass protests forced him out of office on Feb. 11.

The land is part of a project to pump water from Egypt’s Aswan High Dam reservoir and deliver it via a 50 kilometre (30 mile) canal to reclaimed farmland 60 km from the border with Sudan.

Alwaleed’s Kingdom Agricultural Development Co. (KADCO) bought 100,000 feddans (420 million square metres) at Toshka in 1998, soon after the project was begun.

The deal was signed by Egypt’s agriculture minister at the time, Youssef Wali.

A spokesman for the public prosecutor said on Sunday that Wali’s assets had also been frozen.

The spokesman said the deal violated Egyptian law because the area KADCO bought was twice the legal limit and it improperly exempted Alwaleed’s firm from all taxes and fees. (Reporting by Dina Zayed and Patrick Werr; Writing by Tom Pfeiffer; Editing by Will Waterman)

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