January 4, 2020 / 9:21 AM / 6 months ago

Egypt arrests tax authority chief on charges of receiving bribes

CAIRO (Reuters) - The head of Egypt’s tax authority, Abdul Azim Hussein, has been arrested on charges of receiving bribes, the public prosecutors’ office said on Saturday.

“It was proved through recorded phone calls and meetings that he received money and gifts as bribes”, it added in a statement.

The statement gave no details but the state news agency MENA said he had received bribes from some chartered accountants who were dealing with the tax authority. Lawyers for Hussein could not immediately be reached for comment.

Deputy tax authority director Reda Abdul Kader has been named acting head of the agency, the finance ministry said on Saturday. “The (finance) minister affirmed that there is no one above law, and hat there can be no covering up of any corruption,” the ministry added in a statement.

Rare anti-government protests flared in September over economic austerity and allegations of official corruption and waste by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the powerful military. Sisi denies such accusations.

Egyptian authorities have made notable efforts in recent years to improve tax collection and curb tax evasion, tightening laws and launching public campaigns to encourage people to settle their tax affairs.

Several senior officials have been arrested under Sisi’s five-year-old presidency on charges of receiving bribes, and Egypt rose 12 places in Transparency International’s corruption index in 2018 to 105 out of 180 countries.

Reporting by Haitham Ahmed and Ehab Farouk; Writing by Mahmoud Mourad; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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