Cairo: An Egyptian court on Wednesday convicted a Hosni Mubarak-era steel magnate of profiteering and squandering public funds, and handed him a 37-year prison sentence and $296 million fine, the heaviest penalty yet against a former regime official since the longtime autocrat`s fall two years ago.
Ahmed Ezz, who is already serving a combined 17 years in prison from convictions of graft and money laundering, is one of the highest-profile ex-regime insiders to face corruption charges since the popular uprising that ousted Mubarak in February 2011.
A court in Cairo`s sister city of Giza found Ezz guilty of making illicit gains of USD 740 million over a decade in a number of illegal business deals involving a steel firm in which he became the largest shareholder, and a smaller private firm belonging to Ezz.
It ruled that Ezz was aided between 1999 and 2001 by a former industry minister, Ibrahim Mohammadein, who was given a one-year prison term with a suspended sentence and fined nearly 690 million Egyptian pounds (USD 100 million).
Another former head of an industry chamber was handed a 17-year prison sentence for aiding Ezz in squandering public funds. Two other company officials received one and three year sentences. The verdicts can be appealed.
Ezz, who was arrested days after Mubarak`s regime fell, was a close associate of the autocrat`s son, Gamal, who many in Egypt believe was being groomed to succeed his father.