Egypt Arrests Four Food Supply Officials for Taking Bribes

(Bloomberg) -- Egypt’s corruption watchdog arrested four Supply Ministry officials suspected of taking bribes from suppliers.

Those held include the head of Food Industries Holding Co., a state-run company responsible for importing some food commodities, as well as an adviser to Supply Minister Ali El-Moselhy. The officials are suspected of accepting more than 2 million Egyptian pounds ($111,550) in bribes from major commodity companies to help secure orders and facilitate payments, the state news MENA agency reported.

Separately, an official at Egypt’s customs silos and two employees at a grain import and export company were ordered to be held for another 15 days, a northern Giza court said Tuesday. They’ve been detained pending an investigation into allegations of bribery, abuse of office, profiteering and waste of about 30 million Egyptian pounds worth of public funds. It’s unclear if the two cases are related.

The Supply Ministry and the General Authority for Supply Commodities, which manages Egypt’s grain purchases, weren’t immediately available for comment.

Egypt vies with Indonesia as the world’s biggest wheat importer and is closely watched by the market. Food is a politically sensitive industry in the country, where millions of people rely on state-subsidized bread, and in the past disruptions have sparked public protests and unrest.

The arrests are the latest shake-up in the market, which has faced supply disruptions, trader boycotts and allegations of smuggling and fraud in the past few years. Recently, the country’s wheat imports were delayed after three cargoes sold by AOS Trading company were held back, people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified said. Two of the Russian wheat shipments were withheld in Russia and one in Egypt, the people said.

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