Ahmed Ezz Goes to Jail: The Downfall of Mr. Steel

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Ahmed Ezz, a member of the political committee of Egypt's National Democratic Party (NDP), was sentenced to 10 years and fined 660 million Egyptian pounds (US$110 million), by a Cairo court on 15 September 2011 according to state television. (Photo: AFP - Khaled Desouki)

By: Wael Abd al-Fattah

Published Saturday, September 17, 2011

An Egyptian judge sentenced corruption icon of Mubarak’s regime Ahmed Ezz to prison and revoked his steel company’s license yesterday. But Mubarak’s corrupt cronies have not given up and are regrouping abroad.

An Egyptian court sentenced steel tycoon and former Mubarak strongman Ahmed Ezz to ten years in prison yesterday. The court revoked his steel company license, which monopolized steel production and trade for the last decade. Ezz had long symbolized the transition of the entourage around Hosni Mubarak from merely amassing wealth to unbridled corruption.

Having spent the last decade as an MP representing a district in Menoufia, Ezz leveraged his wealth to work his way into the Mubarak inner circle. He soon became a close adviser of Jamal Mubarak who was a rising star in the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and anointed to take his father’s place as president. As Ezz’s political power grew, so did his wealth, becoming among the richest men in Egypt before Mubarak’s demise earlier this year.

Ezz used his wealth as a ladder to reach a position that his skills do not qualify him for. Ezz had little political clout before he amassed his fortune. He hired dozens of researchers and advisers to make him look important, like a US senator. And while he spoke in the name of a ruling party that claimed to advocate for the workers and peasants, his employees could not claim their rights except through strikes and sit-ins.

The sentence against Ezz had led to speculation about the fate of other Mubarak cronies who fed off the fallen regime. It appears that Ezz was not necessarily the main engine behind the corruption. Other influential businessman are believed to be keeping a low-key profile but actively guarding the old regime’s fortune from Western capitals.

Until, of course, these tycoons and magnates move in with Ezz at the Tura Prison in Cairo, they remain hopeful of scuttling the revolution’s aims, taking heart from those voices back in Cairo who are now saying, “enough revolution already... let’s get back to business.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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