Egypt prosecution refers 13 to criminal court in 2016 wheat corruption case

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din, Sunday 23 Dec 2018

A farmer tends to a wheat farm in the El-Dakahlia governorate, north of Cairo, Egypt, February 16, 2016 (Reuters)

Egypt's Prosecutor-General Nabil Sadek has referred 11 wheat silo officials and two others to criminal court on charges of graft worth EGP 634 million, a statement by the prosecution’s office said on Sunday.

The statement said that the primary suspect in the case, who is at large, was responsible for facilitating the embezzlement of EGP 530 million for the rest of the accused.

The defendants face charges of "seizing public funds, forging official documents, and undermining the Egyptian economy and the national security of the country."

According to the statement, defendants in the case include public servants and members of Egypt's Chamber of Grain, as well as members of the wheat sorting and receiving committees established by a joint ministerial decree in 2016.

A parliamentary commission, formed at the end of June 2016, has been tasked with looking into allegations that local wheat procurement figures are inflated, which may reveal further corruption.

In 2016, Egypt has procured five million tonnes of domestic wheat, around 25 percent more than the targeted amount that year.

In 2016/17, Egypt imported 5.5 million tonnes of wheat, compared to 4.6 million tonnes in the 2015/16 season.

Cairo spends around $1.5 billion annually on wheat imports to support a bread subsidy programme relied on by tens of millions of Egyptians.

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