Egypt prosecutor orders arrests in wheat import investigation
Egypt prosecutor orders arrests in wheat import investigation

[JURIST] Egypt’s public prosecutor on Saturday issued an order for the arrest of 13 people accused of committing profiteering, forgery and embezzlement as part of a national wheat import scandal. Local suppliers have historically added wheat to their imported supplies to claim state subsidies [Reuters report]. Egypt offers such subsidies to encourage wheat farming and maintain its status as the world’s largest wheat importer. Investigators, however, have discovered that local suppliers and government employees have falsified 221,800 tons of imported wheat supplies, an amount worth approximately USD $69.93 million. The public prosecutor has ordered thus far that silo owners suspected of scandalous activity should be banned from travel and have their funds frozen. Later this month, the Egyptian parliament’s [official website, in Arabic] investigation committee will release a report detailing their findings regarding the corrupt activity of concern.

Corruption remains a problem in Egyptian politics. In December Egypt’s former Agriculture Minister was detained [JURIST report] after an investigation headed by the country’s prosecutor revealed that the minister and others received bribes amounting to over USD $1 million. In July 2015 an Egyptian court sentenced former prime minister Ahmed Nazif [BBC backgrounder] to five years in prison [JURIST report] during a retrial graft charges. Nazif served during the presidency of Hosni Mubarak [BBC profile] until the start of the Egyptian Uprising [Al Jazeera timeline] in 2011, and was convicted of using his position to make illicit gains in excess of 64 million Egyptian pounds, or approximately USD $8.2 million. In February 2015 the Cairo Criminal Court acquitted [JURIST report] Nazif and former minister of interior Habib el-Adly of all charges against them. Both defendants were charged with “squandering public funds and profiteering” after allegedly making an illegal deal with German Company UTSCH to sell license plates for higher than market value.