Prosecution orders detention of 13 defendants over wheat fraud allegations

Saturday 13-08-2016 04:57 PM

Wheat harvest in Egypt - Reuters

CAIRO, Aug 13 (Aswat Masriya) - Egypt's prosecutor general ordered on Saturday the detention of 13 defendants for 15 days pending investigation over allegations of fraud in local wheat procurement.

The defendants face accusations of facilitating seizure of public funds, illicit profiteering and forgery.

The prosecution ordered last week travel bans and asset freeze on those involved in the case.

Egypt, the world's largest wheat importer, announced in June a government-led inspection of wheat silos  after an unusually high procurement figure prompted widespread fraud allegations from top industry officials, traders and parliamentarians.

The House of Representatives formed a fact-finding committee in July to look into the fraud allegations.

According to a statement by the prosecution,  local wheat suppliers in cooperation with government employees falsified documents to claim EGP621 million worth of grain, about 221,800 tonnes, that does not exist.

The prosecution said the defendants, who also include silo and storage area owners, unlawfully obtained EGP533 million using the forged documents.

The Supply Ministry said it bought nearly 5 million tonnes of local wheat from farmers in the latest procurement season which ended in June.

Last year, the ministry of supply procured a record 5.3 million tonnes of the grain from farmers. 

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