Newspaper article International New York Times

Mubarak-Era Tycoon, Free on Bail, Seeks Re-Election

Newspaper article International New York Times

Mubarak-Era Tycoon, Free on Bail, Seeks Re-Election

Article excerpt

Ahmed Ezz, 56, long reviled as the personification of the crony capitalism that prevailed during the Mubarak era, has filed papers to run for Parliament.

The steel tycoon who once steered the ruling party for President Hosni Mubarak has filed papers to run again for Parliament in the latest unwinding of the Arab Spring revolt.

The tycoon, Ahmed Ezz, 56, was long reviled here as the personification of the crony capitalism that prevailed under Mr. Mubarak. After Mr. Mubarak's ouster in 2011, Mr. Ezz was sentenced to more than 30 years in prison for corruption, but he was freed on bail after an appeals court ordered a retrial just six months ago, in time for parliamentary candidate registration Sunday. "It is as if the revolution never happened from the start," said Mahmoud Saad, a talk show host on a private television network that generally supports the government.

A close friend of Mr. Mubarak's son and heir apparent, Gamal, Mr. Ezz was accused of capitalizing on his political connections to buy state-owned steel companies at favorable prices during a wave of privatizations. He had virtually cornered the market on steel, and by 2010 his holdings were worth more than $2 billion. Completing the circle, he used his profits to bankroll a career as leader of the rubber-stamp Parliament and power broker in the ruling National Democratic Party.

During the uprising against Mr. Mubarak, Mr. Ezz's corporate headquarters was among the first targets. Demonstrators ransacked it the same night they burned down the headquarters of the National Democratic Party, where he was secretary general, on Jan. 28, 2011.

In an apparent attempt to appease the crowds, the Mubarak government barred Mr. Ezz from travel and froze his assets even before Mr. Mubarak himself was forced to resign. After a council of generals took power, on Feb. 11, 2011, the police moved swiftly to arrest Mr. Ezz on corruption charges. But the military takeover led by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in 2013 has quieted the demands for retribution against Mubarak-era leaders, and there was little outcry when Mr. …

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