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Former agriculture minister referred to criminal court on bribery charges - Daily News Egypt

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Former agriculture minister referred to criminal court on bribery charges

Bribes of more than EGP 8m are alleged to have been received by Helal and ministry officials

The Prosecutor General referred Saturday former agriculture minister Salah Helal to the criminal court after being accused of bribery in a corruption case involving his ministry.

The court received the files of the case Sunday, and is expected to announce the date of the first court session in the next few days.

The State Security prosecution detailed the amount of money ministerial officials received as “presents” in exchange for a personal favour for a businessman, which amounted to EGP 8m.

A media gag was enforced on the details of the case, with the exception of official statements issued by the prosecution.

Papers in the cases included official documents concerning an agricultural land of 2,500 acres in Wadi El-Natrun. Investigations also showed that the presents included pilgrimage trips for the defendants’ families, as well as Iftar meals and memberships at the affluent Al-Ahly Club.

The case was opened last month, when the deputy minister of agriculture was arrested on bribery accusations, and prosecution authorities enforced a media gag on the case. Helal had denounced the matter, saying he had no knowledge of it and that his assistant did not inform him of allocating lands to any persons.

Shortly afterwards, Helal was arrested. Days after the arrest, former Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb was sacked and a new government was formed, headed by Sheirf Ismail.

Partners for Transparency (PFT) announced, in its monthly report monitoring corruption, that 85 cases took place in different ministries and governmental offices in September. The report added that the Ministry of Supply was accused of the most cases of corruption, with 18 incidents observed in September.

Last year, the World Bank said 19% of cases of civil servants caught accepting bribes in Egypt were left un-investigated, with another 41% of investigations opened but not concluded. It added that Egypt’s problem in fighting corruption is not the lack of regulations required to crack down on corruption, but that the failure to enforce them, leaving civil servants rarely punished.

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