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Corruption reports continue despite Al-Sisi’s assertions of combating graft - Daily News Egypt

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Corruption reports continue despite Al-Sisi’s assertions of combating graft

Transparency organisation counted 101 cases of corruption in state ministries in May 2016

The non-governmental organisation Partners for Transparency (PFORT) counted 101 reported cases of corruption for the month of May in state institutions, mainly ministries.

This comes despite assertions by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi of the state’s counter-corruption efforts.

The monthly report comes nearly a week after a renewed ministerial corruption scandal in which the health minister’s consultant for medical centre affairs Ahmed A. was caught receiving bribes in the form of cheques worth a total of EGP 4.5m at the ministry headquarters.

The case follows a recent court verdict, sentencing former agriculture minister Salah Helal to 10 years in prison and a fine of EGP 1m. He is charged with accepting bribes while in public office.

Not surprisingly, PFORT’s May report counted at least 14 of the 101 cases—excluding the health ministry official—where public officials came under investigations on charges of bribes. Many cases involved employees at local municipalities involved in the exchange of facilitating licences in the real estate business, others in order to settle unpaid electricity and water bills.

The report also accounted for eight embezzlement cases and 21 cases of wasting public funds, estimated to be in the millions. Moreover, there were 13 cases of selling of basic goods in informal markets and seven cases of forgery of official documents.

In one case, reported by state-run Al-Ahram, the Agriculture Ministry accused the Supply Ministry of manipulating the quantities of local and imported wheat to benefit from sale-price differences and garnering illicit gains at the expense of citizens buying the product.

Consequently, PFORT’s top three corrupted ministries in May were the agriculture, supply, and local development ministries, with 17, 15, and 12 cases each, respectively. They were followed by the interior, health, education, and irrigation ministries.

Those ministries are regularly on top of PFORT’s lists. In one instance the Supply Ministry topped the list for several consecutive months. Although the report mentions the role of some state authorities in catching corruption, it remains widespread in government entities.

In a televised interview on Friday, Al-Sisi—who has repeatedly mentioned the need to combat corruption since his inauguration in 2014—said monitoring bodies were alert and required to work in total independence.

However, the president spoke vaguely, especially in the wake of the prosecution of former top auditor and head of the Central Auditing Organisation (CAO) Hisham Geneina for revealing an alleged amount of corruption reaching EGP 600bn in 2015.

Dismissed by Al-Sisi from his post, Geneina is facing accusations of spreading false information and endangering public order, while little investigation into his claims has been actually conducted.

PFORT manager Walaa Gad had previously told Daily News Egypt that the step highlighted the lack of political will to seriously counter corruption. Many of the Mubarak-era men, including himself and his sons, were involved in large corruption cases. There has been little or no accountability in most cases.


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