30 more arrested in wheat scandal, rumors of travel ban on Hanafy
The Prosecutor General ordered the arrest of 30 people including officials from the Supply Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry in Fayoum for their alleged involvement in widespread fraud during the domestic wheat collection harvest, Al Shorouk reports. The officials and private sector silos owners are reportedly accused of conspiring to defraud the government of EGP 64 mn in subsidized wheat and replacing it with imported wheat. The move is the largest single sweep of arrests in the case, which to date has seen around 19 people arrested, two of whom were subsequently released on bail. The Prosecutor General has also put in a request to the court system to impose asset freezes and travel bans on suspects, Youm7 reports. While the full scope of the corruption scandal remains unknown, the Interior Ministry reportedly says the state may have paid as much as EGP 1.5 bn for wheat that didn’t exist, according to Assistant Interior Minister Hosny Zaky, Al Borsa reports.
Is former Supply Minister Khaled Hanafy headed to the clink? Al Borsa reported on Saturday that the Illicit Gains Authority had placed former Supply Minister Khaled Hanafy and 37 other ministry officials on a travel ban as part of the investigation, something judiciary sources speaking to Al Shorouk deny. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said that Hanafy’s replacement will be named within the week, according to Al Masry Al Youm. No criminal charges have been pressed against the former minister.
Supply Ministry tempting fate again? On a related note, the General Company for Silos and Storage, which has caught a lot of flak from Parliament for contracting the private sector during the wheat harvest and fumbling the launch of the Blumberg Grain shounas, has contracted 45 local private sector silos to store wheat. This time, however, the GCSS included clauses in the contract which hold these silo owners liable if the numbers don’t add up, AMAY reports.