Cairo: Egypt’s State Security prosecutors have charged Governor of Menufia Hesham Abdul Basset with bribery and wasting public money, legal sources said on Tuesday, the latest corruption case uncovered in the country in recent months.
Abdul Basset was arrested on Sunday by the Administrative Oversight Authority, an anti-graft state agency, in Menufia, north of Cairo, allegedly for taking a bribe of two million Egyptian pounds (Dh416,000) from two businessmen in return for offering them a piece of state-owned land at a low price.
The market value of the land is estimated at 20 million Egyptian pounds, the sources added. Both businessmen involved in the case were also arrested.
Authorities’ attention to the governor’s alleged malpractice came after his second wife filed a legal complaint, accusing him of corruption, the sources said. The woman’s act came after she learnt he had taken a third wife.
Abdul Basset, who became governor in February 2015, was being monitored for about four months.
He is being held in custody in Cairo. He has denied any corruption charges.
Egypt’s chief prosecutor ordered that Abdul Basset’s assets and those of the two businessmen be seized.
President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi has vowed a relentless fight against corruption since he took office in 2014. Several state officials have since been arrested on corruption charges in separate cases.
In August last, the deputy governor of the coastal city of Alexandria, Soad Al Khuly, was held for receiving more than one million Egyptian pounds in bribes from some businessmen in order to block the demolition of their illegally constructed properties on state-owned land in the city, and help them avoid paying fines for these violations.
In April, Egypt’s top appeals court upheld a 10-year jail ruling against former agriculture minister Salah Helal, who was convicted of taking bribes when he was in office.