Acting Prosecutor General Ali Omran issued on Sunday a media gag on the case involving the alleged bribery of some officials in the Ministry of Agriculture.
Omran decided to ban all media outlets from publishing any materials on the case, other than those released by the prosecutor’s office.
The decision includes audio and video outlets, as well as newspapers and magazines, of national and partisan affiliations, until the investigations have been completed.
Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Eid Hawash told Daily News Egypt: “The case concerns the arrest of M.K., Assistant and Director of the Agriculture Minister’s Office, on corruption charges, and allegedly receiving bribes from businessmen to facilitate the seizure of the lands of the state.”
The Administrative Control Authority reportedly arrested M.K., along with a number of officials working in the reconstruction body on similar bribery charges. The Administrative Control Authority (ACA) reportedly tracked and recorded calls between the defendants and a number of businessmen. The agreements between them included large amounts of money, in exchange for facilitating the seizure of large tracts of land.
Minister of Agriculture Salah Helal denounced the matter, confirming no knowledge in this regard, and stating that his assistant did not inform him of allocating lands to any persons.
Similar incidents of corruption have allegedly been taking place in the Ministry of Agriculture. In an official statement in mid-August, Helal announced he has referred senior leaders at the Land Reforms Authority to the prosecution on charges of seizure of public funds.
The leaders are also charged with financial violations regarding withholding the institution’s financial records from auditing agencies. However, the statement said the leaders had seized over EGP 6.5m.
In response, Helal reshuffled six positions inside the authority’s management, and decided to put the authority’s financial records under the Ministry of Finance’s official supervision. Other measures have also recently been taken by the Ministry of Agriculture to facilitate the land reforms process and contracts for the beneficiaries.
Reporting by Ahmed Tahoun