Hosni Mubarak is not the only official to lose tremendous face following the dramatic Egyptian revolution earlier this year. The former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation Youssef Wali also became the subject of prosecutors’ interest when a few shady business transactions came into focus. After he resigned in February, 2011, prosecutors froze his assets in April for yet more dubious transactions. Now officials accuse Wali of permitting the illegal entry of previously banned carcinogenic pesticides into the country over a six year period.
Banned and back
35 brands of pesticides that are known to cause cancer were banned by Egypt in 1996. But Wali, who was Agriculture Minister between 1982 and 2004 (and ostensibly played a role in their banning), permitted the chemicals to cross into the country all the same between1998 and 2004.
He has been detained over the weekend in relation to these charges, which he denies.
Wali is also accused of several corruption cases, according to Bikya Masr, including squandering approximately $33.6 million state money by selling public land to businessman Hussein Salem for less than it was worth.
In another case, he is accused of selling 420 million square meters of land to Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal in another deal that Egyptian authorities are investigating.
Under this kind of leadership, it is no wonder that the country’s agricultural industry is suffering not only from the effects of rampant desertification, but from poor management. Recently the European Union traced the devastating E. coli outbreak that killed 49 people to a farm in Egypt.
Unfortunately, continued protests, heat, and increasing regional instability are making it difficult to press for a more honest Egyptian leadership since the times call for swift measures (or really good patchup jobs.)
:: Bikya Masr
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