Egyptian officials land behind bars as anti-corruption crackdown tightened



Mon, 15 Jan 2018 - 01:50 GMT


Mon, 15 Jan 2018 - 01:50 GMT

An employee counts money at an exchange office in downtown Cairo (Photo credit: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

An employee counts money at an exchange office in downtown Cairo (Photo credit: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

CAIRO – 15 January 2018: In light of Egypt’s efforts to seize corruption in governmental authorities, the Administrative Control Authority (ACA) – the regulatory body responsible for enforcing laws and regulations within state institutions - managed to detain on Sunday the Governor of Menoufia, Hesham Abdel Baset, and two businessmen in Sadat City over charges of corruption.

Security sources said the governor of Menoufia was detained in Sadat city, in the governorate, with LE 2 million in his possession. The authority managed to record phone calls for Abdel Baset with the two businessmen, proving that he agreed to take LE 2 million as a bribe in return for land licenses. The governor was under the ACA surveillance in the last period.

File - Governor of Menoufia Hesham Abdel Baset

The detention procedures came following a complaint request submitted against Abdel Baset by a former employee of the General Directorate of Menoufia. The governor's office was closed, security personnel were deployed in front of the office, and employees were prevented from entering till the investigations were concluded, a security source stated.

The sources pointed out that the ACA detected a number of corruption cases involving the arrested governor. The ACA referred the governor to the public prosecution for investigation.

Suspicions of corruption surrounded Abdel Baset during his three years as the head of Sadat City, MP Ahmed Rafat said.

"The detention decision didn’t affect the scheduled visit of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to Menoufia governorate to inaugurate a number of developmental projects," Rafat said, pointing out that the decision was made without any hesitation.

In his first statement after taking office as the Minister of Local development on Sunday, Abu bakr el-Gendy stated that he was shocked by the latest actions of the governor of Menoufia saying that “I can’t imagine that an official can do that, but the human soul has many weaknesses. We are human beings and everyone has his point of weakness.”

Social media users received the ACA decision with pleasure, launching a hashtag “Egypt is being cleaned", which means that Egypt is getting rid of corruption figures in the government. Menoufia topped the search of Egyptian Twitter users.

An Egyptian user tweeted that “Thirteen cases of corruption have been seized from the monsters of ACA since the beginning of January 2018 until today, which means in 14 days”. The user expressed his pride of the “Monsters of ACA who are not blinking until corruption ends”.

Another Twitter user expressed his happiness, saying “The governor of Menoufia and the head of the Giza Criminal Court were both detained.” Some Egyptian media outlets stated that the head of the Giza Criminal Court was detained over offering a bribe to the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health to offer a service to one of his relatives.

Bribery and corruption have been rife in Egypt for long decades and were one of the main causes for the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime President Hosni Mubarak.

President Sisi always stressed on applying strict measures within the government institutions to crack down any violation. He hailed the role played by the ACA in different occasions.

The ACA’s efforts were very fruitful in the last years and prosecuted several high-profile cases which led to a noticeable decline in corruption incidents.

In April 2016, the Cairo Criminal Court sent former Agriculture Minister, Salah el-Din Mahmoud Helal, and his office manager to 10 years in prison each on corruption charges.

The prosecution said in a court session that Helal and his office manager had accepted bribes including a luxury home, membership of an exclusive sports club, clothing from high-end fashion stores, and mobile phones.

In January 2017, former Secretary-General of Egypt's State Council Wael Shalaby committed suicide while in custody after his arrest for alleged corruption.

This incident came days after a procurement manager at the State Council, Gamal al-Laban, was arrested and charged with receiving bribes worth millions of Egyptian pounds.

Egypt ranked 108th out of 176 countries on Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perception Index, scoring 34 points, down two points compared to 2015. A score of zero is highly corrupt while 100 is very clean.

Transparency International, the leading civil society organization fighting corruption worldwide, will release its next annual Corruption Perceptions Index on January 25, 2018.



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