Egypt detains head of industrial authority

Reuters, Tuesday 22 Feb 2011

An Egyptian prosecutor orders the detention of IDA head for questioning over corruption charges

An Egyptian prosecutor ordered the detention of the head of the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) for investigation, the latest official to be held to account after protests questioned official squandering of public wealth.

Amr Assal, the head of the IDA, will be held for 15 days, on charges that he gave out a license without legal merits to Ezz Steel on a factory in Ain El-Sokhna on the Red Sea, the state Al Ahram newspaper said on Tuesday.

The charges against Assal say he squandered LE 670 million ($114 million) of public wealth in giving out the licence to Ahmed Ezz, a senior leader in former President Hosni Mubarak's party and chairman of Ezz Steel.

Ezz himself is detained also pending trial on suspicion of wasting public funds. His company said last week that he strongly denied the accusations and the investigation was a personal matter that would not affect the company's operations.

Assal was not immediately available for comment.

Egypt on Monday referred the former interior and tourism ministers to a criminal court, the state news agency reported, Former Interior Minister Habib El-Adly was charged with money laundering and profiteering, while former Tourism Minister Zuhair Garana was accused of intentionally damaging public funds and allowing others to benefit financially.

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