Sainsbury boss escapes Egyptian jail

By Laurence Gibbons

- Last updated on GMT

Coupe has had his conviction for embezzlement overturned
Coupe has had his conviction for embezzlement overturned

Related tags Law Sainsbury

Sainsbury boss Mike Coupe has escaped a jail term in Egypt after he was acquitted of attempted embezzlement by an Egyptian court.

The acquittal follows a legal dispute brought against Sainsbury and its ceo by Amr El-Nasharty, with whom Sainsbury entered into a joint-venture in 1999.

El-Nasharty has brought several claims against the supermarket and its employees in the intervening years, all of which have consistently been rejected as spurious and without basis in fact, Sainsbury said.

Two years imprisonment

Coupe had been sentenced to two years imprisonment​ after his conviction by a court in Giza for attempted embezzlement in April.

Coupe was held responsible by the court as the most senior employee at Sainsbury.

However, Coupe’s sentence was overturned on appeal at a hearing last week (June 11).

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “We are pleased that justice has prevailed today, with the court ruling in favour of Mike, and ultimately Sainsbury.

“We have always strongly refuted the legal case in Egypt brought against our chief executive Mike Coupe, which relates to a historic commercial dispute which has absolutely nothing to do with Mr Coupe.” 

Coupe was not employed by Sainsbury at the time of the original dispute in 2001 and has never met the complainant, the retailer added.

Coupe was not in court to hear the verdict, which was relayed by Sainsbury’s legal representatives in Egypt.

Seized bounced cheques

El Nasharty claimed Coupe had tried to seize bounced cheques the former had used to purchase Sainsbury’s Egyptian business back from them in 2001 during a visit to the country last year.


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

  • Source: Legal Explanations

Coupe was not in Egypt on the day in question and was in London carry out his normal duties, Sainsbury said.

Former Sainsbury boss Justin King remains acquitted​ after previously being charged with breach of trust in an Egyptian court following a similar case brought forward by El Nasharty.

The convictions followed 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 criticis.

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