Egypt steel tycoon gets 37 years for profiteering

CAIRO Wed Mar 6, 2013 2:39pm GMT

Ahmed Ezz, a senior leader in Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak's party and chairman of Ezz Steel, arrives outside the court in north Cairo February 23, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer

Ahmed Ezz, a senior leader in Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak's party and chairman of Ezz Steel, arrives outside the court in north Cairo February 23, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian criminal court sentenced steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz to 37 years in prison on Wednesday for profiteering and squandering public funds and fined him 6 billion Egyptian pounds (590 million pounds), state news agency MENA and a judicial source said.

Ezz, the former owner of Ezz Steel Co, was charged with using his position as a leading official in the dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP) to make illegitimate gains of about five billion Egyptian pounds.

The NDP was the party of former president Hosni Mubarak which was dissolved shortly after the revolution that toppled him.

Ezz is one of many close associates of Mubarak to face embezzlement charges.

Among others are Mubarak's two sons Gamal and Alaa, former Finance Minister Youssef Boutrus Ghaly and businessman Hussein Salem.

Prosecutors said that Ezz "has harmed public funds and with cooperation with some defendants within the Dekheila company has garnered illegitimate funds ... from 2001 to 2011, the time he was the Chairman of the Dekheila company," MENA said.

A judicial source said Ezz, who is also a shareholder in the state-owned Dekheila steel company, was fined six billion pounds on Wednesday.

Ezz was also charged with selling Dekheila products to his steel company at below market prices and funnelling its debt into the state-owned company.

(Writing by Marwa Awad; Editing by David Cowell)

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