Bloomberg News

Ex-Egypt Bank Chairman Omar Held on Sex Charges in New York

June 01, 2011

(Updates with Riker’s Island in first, third paragraphs.)

June 1 (Bloomberg) -- The former chairman of Egypt’s Bank of Alexandria was held overnight at New York’s Riker’s Island jail complex after being arraigned in Manhattan on charges of sexually abusing a maid at the Pierre Hotel in New York.

Manhattan judge Gerald Lebovits around midnight last night set bail for Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar, chairman of El-Mex Salines at $50,000 bond or $25,000 cash, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Omar also was ordered to surrender his travel documents, prosecutors said.

Omar, 72, was taken overnight to Riker’s Island, New York City’s main jail complex, located off the shore of northern Queens opposite LaGuardia Airport, Sharman Stein, a spokeswoman for the New York City Department of Correction, said in an interview. He can post bail there, she said.

Riker’s is where Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former International Monetary Fund chief, was locked up last month on charges of sexual assault and attempted rape against a Midtown hotel maid.

Strauss-Kahn was later released after posting $1 million cash bail and $5 million bond, and surrendering his passport. He also must wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and is under 24-hour armed guard at a rented townhouse in Lower Manhattan.

Omar was arrested May 30 after a 44-year-old female housekeeper alleged he attacked her the day before, according to a police spokesman.

Midtown Hotel

Officers were called to the hotel, located in Midtown Manhattan, after she informed security of an alleged incident when she went to Omar’s room after he requested tissues. Prosecutors said Omar is 72; police previously said 74.

Omar “wrapped his arms tightly around the informant’s body and while holding the informant, kissed the informant’s neck and lips,” Detective Efrain Curet said in the criminal complaint. Omar grabbed the maid a second time and groped her, according to the criminal complaint.

Police charged Omar with sexual abuse in the first degree, sexual abuse in the third degree and forcible touching. He allegedly asked the maid for her telephone number and she gave a false one before leaving the room, police said. If convicted of the top charge, he faces up to seven years behind bars.

Omar is scheduled to next appear in court June 3.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, is due back in court June 6. He is accused of attacking a housekeeper at a Midtown Manhattan hotel and forcing her to perform sex acts. His lawyer denies the charges.

Strauss-Kahn Bail

Strauss-Kahn was arrested May 14 and on May 16 ordered held without bail by Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Melissa Jackson after prosecutors said he was a flight risk. He was later granted bail by New York State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus.

Omar is being held at the West Facility at Rikers Island, according to Stein. It is one of about 10 separate jails on 415 acres. West Facility, the same jail where Strauss-Kahn was held, primarily houses inmates with contagious diseases and can also be used for prisoners who need to be separated from others, Stephen Morello, another Correction Department spokesman, said last month.

Omar is the former chairman of the Egyptian American Bank and the Federation of Egyptian Banks, according to the El-Mex Salines company website.

The Pierre, where room rates start at $776 a night according to its website, is part of the Taj Group of Hotels. The hotel said it’s cooperating with police.

Hotel Statement

The “Pierre’s priority is the safety of the guests and our staff,” the hotel said in a statement read over the telephone. “We take all complaints very seriously and investigate it thoroughly.”

The hotel suspended a supervisor who stopped the maid from immediately filing a complaint, the New York Daily News reported yesterday.

Osama Abdel Aziz, the executive manager at El-Mex, couldn’t be immediately reached for comment and calls to the company went unanswered yesterday. Nobody was immediately available for comment at Bank of Alexandria.

--With assistance from Renee Lawrence in London, David McLaughlin in New York and Ahmed Namatalla in Cairo. Editors: Joe Schneider, Michael Hytha

To contact the reporters on this story: Karen Freifeld in New York at kfreifeld@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.


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