Friday,24 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1377, ( 18 - 24 January 2018)
Friday,24 May, 2019
Issue 1377, ( 18 - 24 January 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Menoufiya governor arrested

The governor of Menoufiya was arrested this week as part of a crackdown on corruption, reports Nesma Nowar

 

  Abdel-Baset
Abdel-Baset

Governor of Menoufiya governorate Hisham Abdel-Baset was arrested on Sunday evening on corruption charges hours before President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi was due to visit the governorate to inaugurate a number of projects.

He was arrested along with two businessmen, the Administrative Control Authority (ACA), the country’s corruption watchdog, said.

Abdel-Baset is alleged to have illegally allocated land in Sadat City to the businessmen in return for a bribe of LE2 million, media reports citing official sources said. 

The ACA has been leading a crackdown on corruption across Egypt, leading to the arrest and imprisonment of several officials and senior employees.

In August last year, it ordered the arrest of Alexandria’s deputy governor on charges of bribery, profiteering and squandering public funds.

In 2016, it revealed a major corruption case that led to the ouster of former agriculture minister Salah Hilal. Hilal and three ministry officials were arrested on charges of accepting bribes worth more than LE11 million. He was later sentenced to 10 years in prison and a fine of LE1 million.

In December 2016, the ACA ordered the arrest of the head of the procurement department at the State Council on charges of receiving bribes worth millions of pounds. In January 2017, it ordered the arrest of an advisor to the finance minister on charges that he had received LE1 million from a contractor as part of a larger bribe for mispricing state-owned land.

President Al-Sisi has urged the government to do more to eliminate corruption and has often referred to the need to fight against it in speeches. Corrupt individuals will be held accountable regardless of their positions, he has said. 

In July 2017, the cabinet approved amendments to the law regulating the ACA, granting it complete financial and administrative autonomy.

The amendments stipulate that the ACA is affiliated with the presidency, rather than the prime minister’s office, and state that the head of the ACA will be appointed by presidential decree. They also widen the scope of the authority’s responsibilities in investigating alleged illicit gains and foreign-exchange related crimes.

Suspicions of widespread bribery and corruption were one of the reasons behind the 25 January Revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.

Hisham Genina, former chief of Egypt’s Central Auditing Authority (CAA), said in late 2015 that there had been mass corruption in the country’s institutions since Mubarak’s rule, causing it to lose some LE600 billion between 2012 and 2015.

However, an investigative committee formed on the orders of President Al-Sisi to look into the allegations refuted Genina’s claims, saying they were “misleading” and “exaggerated”.

Egypt ranked 108th out of 176 countries on the international NGO Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perception Index, scoring 34 points and down two points compared to 2015.

A score of zero on the index indicates very high levels of corruption, while 100 means that a country is perfectly clean.

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