Egypt arrests customs chief over alleged bribes

CAIRO – Egypt’s customs chief was arrested on Monday on allegations of taking bribes, said authorities in the North African country where corruption is an endemic problem.

Gamal Abdelazim “obtained bribes… in exchange for the smuggling of goods prohibited for import and without payment of required customs duties,” said the administrative control authority, tasked with tracking graft.

Abdelazim was also accused of asking workers to “prepare false reports in order to reduce the fines on seized goods”. Officials provided no further details on his arrest. Egyptians regularly complain about corrupt officials.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, re-elected to a second term in March, has made the fight against corruption a top priority since he was first elected in 2014. Last year, graft watchdog Transparency International said corruption levels in Egypt were still high due to “the absence of a real political will to fight it”.

The group highlighted Sisi’s 2016 dismissal of former anti-graft chief Hisham Geneina for publishing a report that calculated the cost of corruption in Egypt.

Egypt is ranked 117th on Transparency International’s 2017 corruption perceptions index.