File photo: Ahmed Ezz, former senior leader in former President Hosni Mubarak's party and chairman of Ezz Steel, arrives in a police vehicle outside the court in north Cairo (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt’s economic felonies court has acquitted steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz and two of his associates of charges of engaging in monopolistic practices in the Egyptian steel market on Sunday.
Ezz, who was formerly the secretary-general of Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP) – is the former chairman of Ezz Steel, the largest steelmaker in the region.
The public funds prosecution had referred him to court in January, along with Ezz Steel managing director, Alaa Abul-Kheir, and sales manager, Samir Noaman, on charges of violating the 2005 Law 3 on monopolistic practices.
Prosecution argues that Ezz Steel had violated antitrust laws by forcing its distributors to use their monthly allocations of steel or risk financial penalties.
Ezz Steel controls some 50 percent of Egypt's steel market. In 2009 the company was cleared of any violations of the monopoly law by the Egyptian Competition Authority.
After president Mubarak was ousted in a huge uprising in 2011, Ahmed Ezz became entangled in legal troubles. He was dismissed from his position as chairman of Ezz El-Dekheila in May 2011 and is currently under guard at Tora Prison in southeast Cairo.
In May, Egypt's Court of Cassation ordered Ezz be retried, after he successfully appealed his conviction on charges related to his alleged role in money laundering, illicit profiteering and appropriation of public funds.
The court cancelled Ezz’s seven-year prison sentence and LE19.3 billion fine.
In March, a Giza criminal court slapped the businessman with 37 years worth in jail and an LE2 billion fine on charges of illegally acquiring shares in the Dekheila steel company.
Furthermore, he was given a seven-year jail sentence in October 2012 for illicit profiteering and appropriation of public funds related to the acquisition of the Alexandria National Iron and Steel Company (later renamed Ezz El-Dekheila).
In December, however, Egypt's Court of Cassation cancelled another 10-year sentence a court had given him on graft charges related to the illegal sale of steel licenses.