Qaliubiya officials arrested for fixing wheat distribution, embezzling LE122.9 mn

Qaliubiya security services have arrested several officials on suspicion of illegally maniuplating the government wheat distribution system for financial gain.

Security sources say the officials, who were responsible for supplying wheat to government silos, have made nearly LE122.9 million by recording false data on the amount of wheat supplied.

The officials are said to have over-estimated the amount of wheat supplied to two silos in Obour City, thereby securing a profit for themselves.

The officials were arrested and accused of pocketing nearly LE122.9 million — the value of wheat that was recorded in official documents but not supplied to the state.

Judge Ahmed Abdullah, the attorney general for North Banha, tasked a team of investigators to inspect the silos as part of investigations into the incident.

The investigations revealed the involvement of six other members of the committee supervising the receipt and storage of wheat in Qaliubiya.

According to preliminary investigations, the arrested officials agreed with members of the committee supervising the receipt and storage of wheat to record that 26,000 tons of wheat were stored in the silos, whereas the real amount was much less.

Inspectors from the Solidarity Ministry discovered that the real amount of wheat stored was 5,844 tons, with a value of only LE56.5 million.

Egypt ended local wheat buying on Wednesday, earlier than usual, due to exceeding its target of 4 million tons, according to the Supplies Ministry.

Egypt, the world's biggest wheat importer, has bought 5 million tons of domestic wheat since the start of the season on April 15. Egypt's wheat harvest begins in April and normally runs through July.

Last year, the government said it bought a record 5.3 million tons of the grain, up from 3.7 million the year before.

The ministry said on Saturday, it had spent LE14.5 billion ($1.6 billion) this year as part of a subsidy for farmers, who are being paid a fixed price of LE420 ($47.30) per ardeb (150 kg) of wheat after Egypt abandoned plans to pay farmers global market rates this year.

The higher fixed price, well above global rates, is meant to encourage farmers to grow wheat but has led to smuggling involving the sale of cheaper imported wheat to the government falsely labelled as Egyptian.

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