An adviser from the Finance Ministry was arrested alongside two other individuals while exchanging a LE1 million bribe last week. they were remanded into custody on Sunday for a four-day period pending investigation.
The Reuters-affiliate Aswat Masriya reported that they were arrested on Friday while Tarek Farrag, adviser on real estate tax affairs to the finance minister, was receiving the LE1 million, reportedly the first down payment on LE4 million bribe.
The state-owned Akhbar al-Youm news portal wrote on Sunday that in addition to Farrag, the chief defendants in the case include Abu Bakr al-Fakhr, who paid the bribe, and Amal Abdel Wahab, who facilitated the exchange.
According to the news outlet the bribe was offered to Farrag in exchange for his intervention in depreciating the price of a plot of land allocated for the construction of a resort complex by an estimated LE500, 000.
The defendants were apprehended after an arrest warrant was issued based on an incriminating audio recording, reported Akhbar al-Youm, adding that prosecutors have charged Farrag with accepting a bribe in exchange for an illegal service, in breach of his professional responsibilities.
The prosecution has leveled charges of bribing a public official against Fakhr, while Wahab faces accusations of facilitating the payment of a bribe to a public servant.
The arrests were carried out upon the orders of the state’s Administrative Control Authority, which has recently seen a string of corruption cases filed against public officials
On January 2 Justice Wael Shalaby, former Secretary General of the State Council, committed suicide in his cell after the authority implicated him in a corruption case.
He was accused of accepting a bribe, illegal profiteering and the misappropriation of public funds.
One week earlier the Administrative Control Authority arrested a sales manager at the State Council, Ahmed Gamal al-Din al-Labban, in the same case. Labban was accused of accepting bribes associated with the delivery of office furniture, and was reportedly in possession of hard currency worth LE152 million at the time of his arrest.
According to the Administrative Control Authority, the extent of bribery and corruption among state officials has been a significant source of contention over the past year. Justice Hesham Geneina, former chief of the Administrative Control Authority, was sacked in March 2016 upon the direct orders of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for making statements to the media regarding corruption.
In December 2016 he was charged with disseminating false information, accused of exaggerating the extent of corruption in Egypt, and was issued a one year suspended sentence, LE20, 000 fine and three-year probationary period which bars him from speaking with the media.