Egypt sources on Wednesday denied that a recently seized plane carrying $5.7 million in cash and 602 pieces of suspected gold bars in Zambia was an Egyptian-flagged carrier.
A source told the official Egyptian state news agency that the aircraft, which transited through Cairo International Airport, was “privately owned” and “passed all safety and security inspections per the highest standards applied at all Egyptian airports”.
“Coordination is currently taking place at the highest level between the Egyptian authorities and their Zambian counterparts to find out the truth and circumstances of the incident,” the source added.
“The plane does not carry Egyptian nationality in the first place.”
The source did not provide any further details regarding the origin of the plane.
Authorities in Zambia, southern Africa, said they seized an airplane carrying millions of dollars and suspected gold bars weighing 127.2kg from the North African country, Turkish news agency Anadolu reported Tuesday.
The aircraft also contained five pistols with 126 rounds of live ammunition, as well as gold-measuring equipment, the report said.
Ten people, including six Egyptians, were detained by Zambia’s Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) following the seizure.
Zambian, Dutch, Spanish, and Latvian nationals were also arrested and are being investigated, local police said.
Another plane was taken away by Zambian authorities at Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda Airport, with the Egyptian source saying that it “did not cross Egyptian airspace in the first place”.
The plane is thought to belong to a local airline in the southern African country.
The director general of the Zambia Drug Control Authority, Nason Banda, told reporters that the private plane – which he said was “carrying dangerous goods” – landed in the Zambian capital on Monday 7pm local time from Cairo.
“Acting on this information, we together with officers from various law enforcement agencies conducted an operation which resulted in the seizure,” he said.
Investigators believe that the detainees came to Zambia to carry out “business deals”.
Authorities in the country also placed the millions of dollars found on the aircraft in the custody of the Bank of Zambia.
The incident has caused confusion and embarrassment in Egypt, with many calling for clarification from Cairo.
Source: New Arab