Mamdouh Al-Wali, the chairman of the Press Syndicate, missed the first hearing of his investigation on Sunday, the same day that he was referred to a new investigation.
Abeer Saady, board member of the syndicate, said the members found out that Al-Wali was depositing and disbursing money outside of the rules of the syndicate.
The syndicate said in a statement released Monday that Al-Wali was making financial decisions independently without the syndicate board’s knowledge or approval. According to the statement, Al-Wali’s decisions have raised the syndicate’s financial deficit.
The financial director of the syndicate is also being investigated.
A statement released by Al-Wali on Monday, published by state-run Al-Ahram, said the syndicate received a million Egyptian pounds from the High Press Council in October to help journalists in troubled partisan and independent newspapers.
Al-Wali added that money was paid to journalists from that sum twice, both under the approval of the syndicate board.
He added that he intends to continue using the money transparently, according to the board’s approval, to help journalists.
Al-Wali was already being investigated for violating the board’s decision to withdraw from the Constituent Assembly. A general assembly held in the syndicate on 25 November supported the board’s decision because the suggestions and recommendations of the syndicate were not taken into consideration by the assembly responsible for drafting the constitution.
Al-Wali violated the decision and attended the final Constituent Assembly session, held on 29 November. He was investigated, following an emergency meeting on 1 December.
The first hearing in his investigation was held last Sunday. “He did not show up, send a representative, or a memo,” Karem Mahmoud, the secretary general of the Press Syndicate said.
Mahmoud said that because he did not show up, the session was postponed to 13 January.
Saady said, “if he does not show up to the next hearing, sadly, we will be forced to refer him to a disciplinary committee.”
“There is no personal gain whatsoever from this, at least not for me. The interests of the syndicate are the most important thing,” Saady said.
Al-Wali’s statement said, “despite everything that has happened, we call on journalists to unite and let the upcoming elections decide who the general assembly trusts.”
Syndicate elections are set to be held in March, 2012. Saady said Al-Wali wanted the elections to be held in March, 2014, but it was necessary to create mechanisms to ensure the circulation of power inside the syndicate.
Saady said loyalty to the syndicate is of utmost importance. “Anything that serves the interests of the syndicate, we will do,” she added.