Reuters International

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's former top auditor, who was sacked after he said corruption had cost the country $68 billion in four years, was sentenced to jail on Thursday for spreading false news, judicial sources said.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi sacked Hisham Geneina, head of the Central Auditing Organisation, in March. He appointed a fact-finding commission that quickly concluded Geneina had misled the public by over-estimating the scale of corruption.

Geneina was fined 20,000 pounds and told he could pay 10,000 pounds more in lieu of serving his jail term, the sources said.

"This is the maximum penalty and we will appeal," defence lawyer Ali Taha told Reuters.

Geneina, who did not attend the court session, told Reuters last month he had done nothing wrong and his case was being used to discourage others from speaking out in a country he said was increasingly in the grip of security agencies.

Sisi has made fighting graft a priority for his government as it struggles to rebuild an economy battered by political turmoil since the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

(Reporting by Haitham Ahmed; Writing by Lila Hassan; Editing by Lin Noueihed and Robin Pomeroy)

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