Egypt ordered a quarantined Russian wheat shipment re-exported from Egypt on Sunday and told 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 when the prosecutor ordered a probe over the detection of dead bugs and other impurities in Russian wheat.
Since then, over 100,000 tonnes of Russian wheat have been held at ports across the country.
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,” First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov told a news conference.
The prosecution said the grain ordered to be returned on Sunday 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 tonnes of wheat to outside the country,” the Egyptian prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
It added Egyptian Traders should “return its value of $9.6 million to the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC)”.
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. The Russian Grain Union has called the seizures of its wheat provocative and an attempt to lower prices offered by suppliers.
Egypt has bought more than 5 million tonnes of overseas wheat through its main state wheat buyer GASC in the current fiscal year. Much of the wheat Egypt imports is used to make subsidised bread.