Egyptian steel magnate jailed for money laundering

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Associated Press

Posted on October 4, 2012 at 3:01 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 4 at 7:05 AM

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court on Thursday convicted a Hosni Mubarak-era steel magnate of money laundering, sentencing him to seven years in prison and fining him 19.5 billion Egyptian pounds (about $3 billion).

Ahmed Ezz, also a leader in Mubarak's now-dissolved ruling party, is already serving a 10-year sentence for a corruption conviction last year. A powerful insider in the Mubarak regime, Ezz and Mubarak's son and onetime heir apparent Gamal had all but run the ruling party, capping a dizzying rise through its ranks in the last decade of Mubarak's 29-year rule.

Mubarak himself is serving a life sentence for failing to prevent the killing of protesters during a popular uprising that forced him to step down last year. His sons Gamal and wealthy businessman Alaa are in custody while on trial for insider trading and, separately, on corruption charges.

Ezz was arrested days after Mubarak's regime was toppled in February 2011. Among the key demands of the uprising was an end to corruption and kickbacks that favored officials and businessmen close to the Mubarak regime.

He often spoke vehemently in support of the ousted president and was believed to be guiding efforts to further Gamal's ambition to succeed his father. He organized the ruling party's last election campaign, in 2010, which like previous votes saw widespread rigging in favor of regime candidates.

Ezz, Mubarak and his two sons are among some three dozen regime figures and businessmen held in Torah prison in a suburb on the southern outskirts of the capital, Cairo. Their presence there has earned the prison the nickname "Port Torah," a play on the exclusive seaside resorts where many regime figures own multimillion dollar villas.

Many of the actual resorts are now the subject of criminal investigations, mostly over the legality of the purchase of land that was once owned by the state.

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