Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 19:45 pm (KSA) 16:45 pm (GMT)

Egypt orders contaminated Russian wheat out

The Russian shipment was found to contain high levels of
The Russian shipment was found to contain high levels of

Egypt's public prosecutor ordered Sunday the return of a contaminated Russian wheat shipment after it was impounded last month due to health concerns.

The decision to ship back the 52,000 ton of wheat, worth $9.6 million came after an investigation last month found the grain was contaminated with insects and unspecified heavy metals, the source said.

The court also ordered the importer to repay $9.6 million to the main government wheat buyer, a prosecution statement said.

Wheat shipments from Russia have been under intense scrutiny in the most populous Arab country since mid-May. Since then, over 100,000 tons of Russian wheat have been held at ports across the country.

 The public prosecutor ordered officials of the Egyptian Traders Company, which imported this shipment, to re-export all 52,500 tons of wheat to outside the country 
Office of Egyptian prosecutor

The prosecution said the grain was from a shipment imported to Egypt's Red Sea port of Safaga by Egyptian Traders Co. that had been quarantined since last month.

"The public prosecutor ordered officials of the Egyptian Traders Company, which imported this shipment, to re-export all 52,500 tons of wheat to outside the country," the Egyptian prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Egypt, one of the world's largest wheat importers, has bought almost a quarter of the wheat exported by Russia in the current marketing year.

But Russia's top agriculture official defended the quality of the grain it sends to Egypt.

 We send high-quality grain to Egypt and these are insinuations. This is a deliberate delay which has nothing to do with us 
Viktor Zubkov, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister

"We send high-quality grain to Egypt and these are insinuations. This is a deliberate delay which has nothing to do with us," First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov told a news conference.

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

It added Egyptian Traders should "return its value of $9.6 million to the General Authority for Supply Commodities."

Egypt has bought more than 5 million tons of overseas wheat through its main state wheat buyer GASC in the current fiscal year. Much of the wheat Egypt imports are used to make subsidized bread.

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