LONDON (Feb. 3)
Sir Denis Ricketts, member of the British delegation which negotiated an as yet unsigned financial pact between Britain and the United Arab Republic, returned here today after a flying visit to Washington where he conferred with Eugene Black, head of the World Bank Mr. Black has agreed to act again as mediator between Cairo and London to resolve a dispute which has held up signing of the Anglo-UAR pact.
According to informed sources, the major obstacle to the signature is the claim of a family of Jewish refugees who are British subjects and have lived in Egypt for several decades. According to these sources, an “oversight” by the British negotiators and “bad faith” by the Egyptians resulted in an under-valuation of land owned by the Smouha family, The Smouhas, a 55-member family most of whose members fled Egypt after the Sinai Suez campaign and are now living in Britain and Western Europe, own a large parcel of land in Alexandria.
The land, site of a racetrack, a golf course and a vast business and residential development known as Smouha City, is worth about 20, 000 pounds ($56, 000) an acre. The Egyptians, listing it as farm land, valued it at 300 pounds an acre, a difference of about 16, 000, 000 pounds ($44, 800, 000),
The Smouha fortune was founded by Joseph Smouha, who came from Manchester, England, to Egypt in 1917, Seven years later he bought 700 acres of marshy land on the outskirts of Alexandria and began reclaiming and developing it. Eventually, it became Alexandria’s flashiest suburb, Now, the 55 members of the Smouha family are organized into 16 separate branches, each of which is claiming over a million pounds from the Nasser regime. Thus far, the family–once the richest British Jewish family in Egypt–has received 80, 000 pounds in loans from the British Government.