Legal expert: Offer to trade wealth for settlement legal for Ezz, not for Maghrabi

Head of the North Cairo Criminal Court Hassan Hassanein said that only Ahmed Ezz would be eligible to relinquish his assets in exchange for charges against him being dropped. Ezz, the oligarch with a near-monopoly on steel, and former Housing Minister Ahmed al-Maghrabi have offered to relinquish part of their wealth in return for the government dropping corruption lawsuits filed against them.

Last September an Egyptian court sentenced Ezz to 10 years in prison and fined him the equivalent of about US$11 million for corruption. 

In a statement to the website of the state-run daily Al-Ahram, Hassanein said a special law must be issued to deal with this case and the sentence issued in such crimes is imprisonment, the return of the stolen funds and a fine equal to the amount stolen.

He went on to say that such a deal is not permitted under any circumstance for public servants.

Hassanein pointed out this applies to Maghrabi, who was charged with stealing and facilitating the theft of public funds while he was a public servant, as he served as the housing minister at the time.

The former housing minister was sentenced last May to five years in prison over an illegal land deal.

Hassanein went on to say that such a deal could be made with defendants who were investors, but only after a final judicial verdict is issued and the defendant had exhausted all legal avenues to challenge the ruling, as is the case for Ezz.

Hassanein added that the defendants must first divulge the amount and location of their entire fortunes before acquittal.

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