Algeria suspends grain agency head in corruption probe — govt sources

A combine harvester is used to harvest wheat in a field west of Buenos Aires, December 18, 2012. (Reuters)
Updated 15 July 2019

Algeria suspends grain agency head in corruption probe — govt sources

  • Belabdi is accused of “inflating bills and making false statements”

ALGIERS: Algeria’s government has suspended the head of grains agency OAIC over corruption allegations, sources close to the prime minister’s office said, creating uncertainty for traders who supply one of the world’s biggest cereal importers.
The decision to suspend Mohamed Belabdi pending the completion of investigations was taken at a government meeting chaired by Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, the sources told Reuters on Monday.
The government also decided to shut a total of 45 mills in relation to the alleged corruption case.
Belabdi is accused of “inflating bills and making false statements,” one of the sources said.
OAIC did not answer telephone calls from Reuters seeking comment.
Algeria has placed several former senior officials in custody since mass protests broke out earlier this year demanding the removal of the ruling elite and the prosecution of people suspected of involvement in corruption.
OAIC has a monopoly over wheat imports and purchases 7-8 million tons of the cereal annually through international tenders in order to supply flour mills.
French supplies usually account for the majority of Algeria’s wheat imports, making the North African country the top export destination for French wheat.
European traders said it was too early to tell if the corruption probe would alter the functioning of OAIC.
But the suspension of Belabdi comes as traders are already anticipating possible changes in Algeria’s import policy due to budgetary constraints and efforts by top wheat exporter Russia to gain access to the Algerian market.
“This shows they are continuing to clean things up and to keep a close eye on spending,” one European grain trader said of the probe into OAIC.


Lufthansa cabin crew union stages all-day strike at smaller airlines

Updated 20 October 2019

Lufthansa cabin crew union stages all-day strike at smaller airlines

  • There is escalating row over workers’ pay and pensions
  • The cabin crew union has for months fought with the airline in court over UFO’s legal status

FRANKFURT: German flight attendants’ union UFO on Sunday said it would stage an all-day strike at smaller German divisions of airline group Lufthansa in an escalating row over workers’ pay and pensions.
The walkout at Lufthansa brands Germanwings, Eurowings, Lufthansa City Line and Sunexpress had initially been scheduled for 0300-0900 GMT but the union in a statement on Sunday said industrial action would now be extended until midnight local time (2200 GMT), citing threats made by the airline over jobs as reason.
A Lufthansa spokesman said the strike was illegal because UFO’s status as a negotiator on behalf of staff was in doubt.
Lufthansa on Friday had offered a 2 percent pay rise to cabin staff, prompting the union to call off a planned strike at Lufthansa’s namesake core brand at hubs Frankfurt and Munich.
But the dispute deteriorated after UFO found the offer lacked concessions on expenses and employment conditions.
The cabin crew union has for months fought with the airline in court over UFO’s legal status. Lufthansa claims the union’s new leadership team that took office earlier this year was not elected in a way that met legal requirements.