Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Mubarak ally guilty of corruption

Ahmed Ezz appears in the Cairo Criminal Court in Cairo, Egypt (AP)
Ahmed Ezz appears in the Cairo Criminal Court in Cairo, Egypt (AP)

A powerful steel magnate who was a senior insider in the regime of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has been jailed for 10 years after being convicted of corruption.

Ahmed Ezz was a top ally of the ousted president's son and heir apparent, Gamal Mubarak, and together they all but ran the ruling party.

He became a symbol of the intertwining of business and politics which many Egyptians despised as corrupt, helping fuel the anti-Mubarak uprising.

Ezz appeared in court wearing a prison uniform behind a defendants' cage. He can appeal against the corruption conviction.

Former trade minister Rachid Mohammed Rachid, who remains at large, was sentenced to 15 years in jail in his absence and ordered to pay a 237 million dollar (£150 million) fine for approving production licences to Ezz without auctioning them publicly first.

Rachid was convicted along with two businessmen earlier this year of squandering public funds and profiteering in a separate case. In that case, he was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison and ordered to pay nearly 800,000 dollars (£507,000).

Thursday's verdict revoked the licences of Ezz Steel and the Egyptian Sponge Iron and Steel Co.

The government said in a statement that it would protect the rights of investors and do what it could to stabilise the stock market, after news of the verdicts played into investors' fears. The stock market closed down 2.69%.

Ezz was long accused by businessman and activists of monopolising the steel industry in Egypt.

He and a number of high-ranking former officials and businessmen, including Mubarak's two sons, are being held in Cairo's Tora prison.

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