CAIRO: Egypt’s foreign ministry has denied reports of the detention of the former Egyptian ambassador to Poland, who is allegedly embroiled in a corruption case.
In a press statement issued on July 11, the ministry denied reports that the former ambassador Yehia El-Ramlawi had been detained, adding that the news agency that had made the allegation had apologized.
Poland’s public radio network, Polskie Radio, published an article on its website last week stating that the former ambassador had been detained in Cairo on charges of corruption. The ambassador was allegedly accused of accepting bribes in overseeing the purchase of land for the Egyptian embassy in Warsaw.
According to the article, this real estate deal was facilitated by two Polish lawyers, identified as Jacek M. and Tomasz C.
Dorota Tietz, spokesperson for the Warsaw Police, was quoted in a July 13 Polskie Radio article as saying that the lawyers “bought the land through a middleman who then sold it on to the embassy for an inflated price.
Tietz added that the Egyptian embassy lost a total of ?1.42 million euros in this deal. The ambassador allegedly received ?330,000 euros from Polish lawyer Jacek M.
The lawyers involved have been detained and are awaiting trial. If guilty, the two could face a heavy fine and up to ten years in prison.
In statements to the local press yesterday, the spokesman of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hossam Zaki, confirmed that the ministry is closely following the issue.
The spokesman stated that the task of finding a new embassy premises in 2007 was delegated to the Egyptian ambassador to Poland, who, in turn had assigned lawyers to draft the necessary contract to purchase the land required.
The procurement process took some time, Zaki stated, but eventually the ambassador committed to a contract in which the embassy purchased the land for ?2 million.
The Foreign Ministry later received a complaint that the price was highly inflated, and that the land’s real value was closer to ? 1million.
But the details of El-Ramlawi s involvement are still unclear.
Zaki says that Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit has instructed forming a committee to investigate the issue.
According to Abdel-Mawgood Al-Habashi, the head of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Judicial Administration, this case had been dealt with in 2007. The MFA had investigated the ambassador s use of public funds, but Al-Habashi says he was cleared as there was lack of sufficient evidence.
Al-Habashi says that a ministry committee is currently reviewing all related documents. This committee will also determine if El-Ramlawi should be punished, and whether this punishment should be administrative or disciplinary.
Administrative punishments include fines ranging from LE 50 to deducting six months worth of El-Ramlawi s salary.
If new evidence arises implicating the ambassador, he could be subject to harsher punishment, says Al-Habashi. However, five years after an ambassador’s retirement, he is exempt from such charges. El-Ramlawi retired two years ago.
The Polish embassy in Cairo could not be reached for comment.