Illicit Gains Authority seizes funds of 18 defendants in wheat corruption case

The Illicit Gains Authority affiliated to the Justice Ministry announced Thursday the seizure of funds and property of 18 defendants in the wheat import corruption case.

The authority has referred the decision to the criminal court to decide on whether to uphold or reverse it.

The defendants include 4 businessmen who own wheat silos and 14 officials from the Ministry of Supply.

The case started when the Illicit Gains Authority received reports that showed manipulation in the recorded amounts of wheat imported by the supply ministry.

A government fact-finding committee on wheat stores has reported large amounts of wheat missing from silos in 6th of October City, with some silo owners over-reporting the amount of wheat in their possession by up to 50 percent.
The investigation into wheat stocks held in private silos was prompted by unusually high local procurement figures, leading some to suspect corruption among industry officials, traders and lawmakers.
Egypt, the world's largest wheat buyer, said in June that in the latest procurement season it bought nearly five million tonnes of local wheat from its farmers, the second highest figure on record and well above the three to 3.5 million tonnes per year farmers had delivered over the past decade.

Wheat millers and traders told Reuters that the high figure was a result of private suppliers misreporting their stocks to collect government payments for highly subsidized local wheat that was not actually in their silos.

In the years 2011 and 2012, the official stores of wheat in Egypt amounted to 9.5 million tons, droping to 7.5 million tons in 2013; they then suddenly shot up to 10.5 million tons in 2014 and 2015, said member of parliament (MP) Yasser Omar in an earlier statement in July. 

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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