Sainsbury boss sentenced to jail in Egypt

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

Mike Coupe: sentenced to two years in an Egyptian jail
Mike Coupe: sentenced to two years in an Egyptian jail

Related tags: Law, Court

Sainsbury chief executive Mike Coupe has been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in an Egyptian jail, after his conviction by a court in Giza for attempted embezzlement.

The court in the nation’s third largest city ruled Coupe had tried to seize cheques connected with an Egyptian business, which the retailer invested in 16 years ago. Coupe was held responsible by the court as the retailer’s most senior employee.

A Sainsbury spokeswoman told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We strongly refute the legal case in Egypt brought against our chief executive Mike Coupe. This relates to a historic commercial dispute in which Mr Coupe had no involvement.”  

Never met the complainant

Coupe was not employed by the retailer at the time of the original business deal in 2001 – which gave rise to these legal proceedings – and has never met the complainant Amr El Nasharty, she added.

“Mr El Nasharty has consistently made false claims against Sainsbury’s and individuals within the business over the years, all of which have been unsuccessful,”​ said the spokeswoman.

“When Mr El Nasharty bought the Egyptian business back from us in 2001, he paid us with cheques that bounced. Mr El Nasharty is now claiming that Mike Coupe was in Egypt in July 2014 and tried to seize these cheques. This is clearly ridiculous.”

On the day Coupe was alleged to have visited Egypt, he was, in fact, carrying out his normal duties in London.

‘Groundless allegations’

Sainsbury’s response

“We strongly refute the legal case in Egypt brought against our chief executive Mike Coupe. This relates to a historic commercial dispute in which Mr Coupe had no involvement.”  

“Mike Coupe was tried in absentia by an Egyptian court, without prior notice that he needed to attend and we are contesting these groundless allegations,”​ concluded the spokeswoman.

Sainsbury denied reports that restrictions had been placed on Coupe’s travel.

The Sainsbury boss reportedly visited Egypt on Sunday (April 26) to appeal the convictions. But the case was adjourned for a month, according to The Telegraph.

Coupe’s conviction follows Sainsbury’s £10M investment in a 25% joint venture with El Nasharty in 1999. The retailer reportedly later invested a further £40M in the business, which at one time extended to about 100 stores. 

The Egyptian judicial system is said to be an independent branch of the government, which includes both secular and religious courts. There are seven courts of appeal located in: Cairo, Alexandria, Tanta, Mansoura, Ismailia, Beni Swaif and Assuit. In recent years, the country’s legal system has attracted widespread international criticism.

Embezzlement

“Embezzlement is the crime of stealing the funds or property of an employer, company or government or misappropriating money or assets held in trust.”

Related topics: Legal

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