Mubarak-era Egyptian steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz released on bail

Ahram online, Thursday 7 Aug 2014

After three years behind bars, steel tycoon hits the streets after paying LE152 million in unpaid bills, money laundering charges and illicit gains

Ahmed Ezz
Ahmed Ezz in his years as leader in Mubarak's National Democratic Party (File Photo: Reuters)

The Egyptian steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz, the secretary-general of Hosni Mubarak's NDP, who was accused of playing a key role in orchestrating the rigging of 2010 parliament elections and has been standing trials since shortly after the outbreak of the 2011 revolution on graft and corruption charges, was released from jail on bail on Thursday afternoon.

Ezz is the former chairman of Ezz Steel and has a 55 percent stake in EZDK, the largest steel complex in the Middle East. It was previously known as Alexandria National Iron and Steel Company (ANISC) before Ezz, then a mid-rank steel manufacturer, was called in to bail out the struggling publicly-owned company in 1999.

Ezz has been standing trial for over three years in two separate cases.

The first was for the illegal acquisition of LE6.4 billion between 2003 and 2011 in deals related to his acquisition of Ezz El-Dekheila (EZDK) steel plant.

The second trial was over the illegal sale of steel licences.

On Tuesday, Ezz paid his first tranche of a LE100 million fine for monopolistic practices.

According to judicial sources, Ezz paid an additional LE152 million, comprising unpaid bails over money laundering charges, illicit gains and the illegal acquisition of Ezz El-Dekheila (EZDK) steel plant.

Over the last three years, Ezz has received cumulative sentences of 60 years in prison, but his appeals have all been accepted and he is currently facing retrials.

Ezz: Business marries politics

The Egyptian steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz played a leading role in the final years of toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party -- leading the NDP's secretariat for organisational affairs, sitting on the committee of policy formulation as well as representing the party in parliament.

His duties allowed him to represent the growing alliance between businessmen and politicians in the years before the January 2011 uprising.

In an attempt by the regime to offer concessions to an angry public, Ezz was forced to resign from the NDP on 29 January 2011. On 3 February of that year, Ezz was banned from travel and two weeks later, the top prosecutor ordered him arrested on a variety of corruption charges.

For 30 years, the NDP acted as the pillar of the political corruption of the Mubarak era.

Its headquarters in Cairo and elsewhere across the country were burnt during the 18 days of the 2011 uprising.

A court officially dissolved the NDP in April 2011.

Ezz enjoyed a close relationship with Gamal Mubarak, the former president's son, who was reportedly being groomed to succeed his father as president.

He also acted as one of the main players in planning and executing the fraudulent parliamentary elections of 2010, when more than 95 percent of seats went to the party.

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