July 21, 2009 / 6:56 AM / 10 years ago

GAFTA head quits amid Egyptian Traders case

An Egyptian labourer carries a sack of wheat flour at a warehouse in a grain market in Cairo, November 9, 2008. REUTERS/Nasser Nuri

CAIRO (Reuters) - The president of the London-based Grain and Feed Trade Association (GAFTA) Ashraf El Attal said on Tuesday he had resigned his post to eliminate doubts over the fairness of an arbitration case involving his wheat importing company.

Russian grain company Rosinteragroservis (RIAS) said last week it started two arbitration cases at GAFTA against Attal’s company Egyptian Traders, saying it had failed to pay for two Russian wheat shipments.

“There were untrue allegations that being GAFTA president would influence arbitrations... so I preferred to step out to eliminate any doubts,” Attal told Reuters in an email.

He did not elaborate who the allegations were made by.

Egypt, the world’s top wheat importer, has been in a dispute with Egyptian Traders since mid-May, over both the quality of wheat cargoes brought to the country and over the authenticity of an import document that the firm has said was valid.

Attal said his, “current commitments in Egypt as well as during the next period,” would not give him enough time to fulfill his duties as GAFTA president.

“I would still be able to serve GAFTA as needed, regardless of being president or not,” he added.

Chris Vanhonackher, the commercial director of RIAS Trading, had told Reuters the arbitration cases at GAFTA involved, “contractual disputes on the underlying contracts of the vessel Seabird and the vessel Anning.”

One of the vessels in the dispute, the Seabird, is held at the Egyptian Red Sea port of Safaga despite a decision, announced by Egypt’s trade ministry, to re-export the shipment.

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