Egyptian steel magnate jailed for corruption

Ahmed Ezz and former industrial development chief Amr Assal sentenced to 10 years in prison and joint fine of $110.9m.

    An Egyptian court has sentenced Ahmed Ezz, a steel tycoon, and Amr Assal, a former industrial chief, to 10 years in prison on corruption charges relating to the illegal sale of steel licences.

    The two senior officials in the former ruling party of ex-president Hosni Mubarak also received a joint fine of $110.9m.

    The presiding judge at the court in Cairo also ordered the closure of Ezz's companies on Thursday.

    The judge said it would be up to Ezz and Assal to pay the fine between them, representing the total of public money he said they had wasted.

    The court also sentenced Rachid Mohamed Rachid, the country's former trade and industry minister, in absentia to 15 years in jail and a fine of $235mn, his third conviction in three months.

    Ezz, Assal and Rachid were all found guilty of collaborating to grant production licences without payment of fees and or auctioning them to the public first.

    The judge revoked the licences of Ezz Steel and the Egyptian Sponge Iron and Steel Co.

    One of Egypt's richest people, Ezz quit the board of Ezz Steel and its Ezz Dekheila Steel unit in May to fight the charges. He had denied any wrongdoing.

    The ruling can be appealed at the Court of Cassation.

    His company's shares have fallen 56 per cent this year as a crisis in the property industry undermined demand for its products, and investors speculated that the charges against Ezz would damage the company's business.

    Rachid, believed to have left Egypt a few days after the eruption of mass protests in January that toppled Mubarak three weeks later, was sentenced to another five years in July for misusing public funds along with two other business executives and they were each fined $671,000. 

    A  regular at the World Economic Forum in Davos and an important face for major grain importer Egypt in the commodities market, Rachid also received a five-year sentence in June for profiteering and squandering public funds and was ordered to pay $3.1m.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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