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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Egypt Seeks Arrest of Wheat Importer

CAIRO, Egypt — The chairman of private firm Egyptian Traders Company said Wednesday that Egyptian authorities had issued an order for his arrest in a dispute over a Russian wheat shipment that was rejected by Egypt and ordered re-exported.

Egypt, the world’s top wheat importer, has been in dispute with Egyptian Traders since mid-May over the quality of wheat cargoes brought to the country and the authenticity of an import document the firm said was valid.

“An arrest order has been issued until the re-export [letter of credit] is cashed,” chairman Ashraf El Attal said, adding that he would not be able to comment further from now on.

Egypt suspended grain contracts with Egyptian Traders on June 7 after the prosecutor ordered the re-export of the 52,500-ton Russian wheat cargo and told Egyptian Traders to repay $9.6 million to state grains buyer GASC.

The daily Al Akhbar newspaper said Attal was arrested based on a decision by the public prosecutor. “The public prosecutor is carrying out a broad investigation, and the accused faces several charges including cheating on contracts for importing wheat for the Trade Ministry, seizing public money … and forging official documents,” it said.

The newspaper added that two employees of GASC had been summoned for questioning about the same shipment. GASC officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Russian Grain Union has called the seizures of Russian wheat provocative and an attempt to lower prices.

Grain company Rosinteragroservis said last month that it had started two arbitration cases against Attal’s company Egyptian Traders for failing to pay for two Russian wheat shipments.