Egypt steel magnate faces new charges
Cairo, June 27, 2011
Egyptian steel magnate Ahmed Ezz, a top ally of ousted President Hosni Mubarak who is being investigated for graft, faces fresh charges of profiteering and squandering public funds, state news agency Mena reported.
Ezz, who quit his senior role in Mubarak's National Democratic Party during anti-government protests that unseated Mubarak on February 11, has been detained since February 17 pending his trial on suspicion of wasting public funds.
The Egyptian prosecutor filed new charges against Ezz of unlawfully acquiring shares in Al-Dekheila Steel, now an affiliate of Ezz Steel, between 1999 and 2001, netting illegal gains of 687.4 million Egyptian pounds ($115.3 million), Mena said.
Former industry minister Ibrahim Mohammadein and five officials of Al-Dekheila were also referred to court on charges of profiteering and squandering public funds, Mena added.
Ezz is one of several Egyptian businessmen and former officials being investigated for corruption since the uprising.
He has denied all wrongdoing and said in a letter sent to media from prison that the charges against him were unfounded and a fair trial would prove his innocence.
Ezz is also being investigated for misusing public money and abusing his position as head of Al-Dekheila board to buy steel below cost and have fines he owed to Al-Dekheila dropped between 2001-2011, making illegal gains of 4.82 billion pounds.
Ezz Steel , Egypt's largest steel producer, holds a 55 percent stake in Ezz Dekheila . Ezz quit Dekheila's board on May 16.
In another case brought in February, prosecutors accused him of illegally acquiring steel production licences from the state.
Adel el-Saeed, a spokesman for the state prosecutor, was quoted by Mena as saying Ezz was being questioned on further separate charges of monopolising Egypt's steel market. - Reuters