Egypt charges ex-ministers, businessman with graft

Authorities banned all four, plus former interior minister, from travel while investigations were under way and froze their bank accounts.

Egypt charges ex-ministers, businessman with graft

Egyptian prosecutors filed formal charges on Thursday against three former ministers and a prominent businessman of abusing their position to enrich themselves and misusing public money, state TV said.

Legal measures began against former tourism minister Zuhair Garana, former trade and industry minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid, former tourism minister Ahmed al-Maghrabi and Ahmed Ezz, owner of Ezz Steel, after an uprising against President Hosni Mubarak's rule erupted on Jan. 25.

The ministers lost their jobs when Mubarak sacked his cabinet on Jan. 29. They were intended as concessions to a public partly seen as angry over corruption within the ruling elite. Ezz was a senior figure in the ruling National Democratic Party, which was purged of its leadership last week. As a member of parliament, he has enjoyed immunity from prosecution.

Authorities banned all four, plus former interior minister Habib el-Adli, from travel while investigations were under way and froze their bank accounts.

Rachid has denied wrongdoing. Ezz Steel said in statement this week that Ezz strongly denied the accusations levelled at him and the investigation was a personal matter that would not affect the operations of the company.

The other men have yet to comment.

Military trial

Adli appeared before military prosecutors this week and may face charges of withdrawing security forces from the streets during the uprising, ordering live fire on protesters and releasing prisoners from jail.

After battling massive protests around the country on Jan. 28, security forces suddenly disappeared from the streets of Egypt. Several days of looting and lawlessness followed and many prisoners escaped prison.

State television said Garana was accused of giving state land to a well-known tourist company as an incentive for it investing in his own firm, Garana Tourism, which was facing financial difficulties.

State news agency MENA said Ezz was accused of illegally taking control of state-owned al-Dekheila Steel which then supplied his Ezz Steel firm with steel at reduced prices, costing al-Dekheila heavy losses.

MENA said Maghrabi had sold a loss-making hotel in Aswan, run by a company he owned, to an investor at an inflated price and sold the investor a piece of government land in Matrouh at a cheap price in return for the favour.

It said Rachid used more than 200 million Egyptian pounds ($34 million) from a government export development fund for the benefit of companies he and his family owned and represented.

Reuters

Last Mod: 11 Şubat 2011, 11:42
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