Former minister: Saudi prince set price for 100,000-acre Toshka plot

Saudi prince and billionaire al-Walid bin Talal set his own purchase price when he bought 100,000 acres of state-owned land from the Egyptian government, according to Youssef Wali, the former Agriculture Minister during ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s reign.

In 1997, the Egyptian government sold 100,000 acres of state-owned land in the Toshka land reclamation project to an agricultural development company owned by the prince. According to the terms of the contract, bin Talal paid only LE50 — less than US$10 — per acre. He also received discounted rates for water and electricity, in addition to tax exemptions and the right to own the land after completing payment. Several members of parliament had accused the government of squandering public funds by granting bin Talal so many privileges.

The Supreme State Security Prosecution continued its second consecutive day of investigations with Wali on Thursday. Wali is being accused of squandering funds and agreeing on the import of carcinogenic pesticides that caused hundreds of people to become seriously ill.

Wali is also being investigated for selling the Toshka land to bin Talal at lower than market prices. During the investigations, Wali said, “When al-Walid came to Egypt requesting the purchase of the land, he wrote the land contract and set a purchase price of LE50 per acre and presented it to the former president."

He went on to say that “the former president called the then Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri, who informed me and instructed me to finish the deal.”

A judicial body on Monday urged Egypt's High Administrative Court to nullify a government contract for the sale of a 100,000-acre plot of land to bin Talal. It said the land deal was illegal.

A report by the Egyptian State Lawsuits Authority stated that the contract concluded between the Egyptian Government and bin Talal’s Kingdom Agricultural Development Company is “null and void in its entirety".

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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