CAIRO: In a crackdown on corruption following the fall of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s regime, the Public Funds Prosecution on Thursday ordered the detention of former Ministers of Interior Habib El-Adly, of tourism Zuheir Garannah, and of housing Ahmed El-Maghraby as well as steel mogul and leading ruling party official Ahmed Ezz.
The four are to be remanded in custody for 15 days at Tora prison pending investigation.
El-Maghraby and Garannah are under interrogation for allegedly misappropriating public funds.
Steel mogul, Ezz, who is a former leading member in the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) is suspected of having obtained permits to build two factories in the Suez free trade zone in contravention of existing regulations, the official MENA news agency said.
El-Adly is held on allegations of money laundering and abuse of power, as he is blamed for the brutal treatment of demonstrators as well as the sudden absence of security forces.
The Prosecutor General froze the assets of El-Adly and his family members on accusations that over LE 4 million ($680,000) were transferred to his personal account by the head of a real estate contracting company, state TV said on Saturday.
According to the Associated Press, all four had previously been banned from travel abroad and had their assets frozen, measures that are normally a prelude to a criminal investigation and possible trial.
Former Minister of Industry, Rachid Mohamed Rachid, was also banned from travel and had his assets frozen, however he was in Dubai when the decision was announced, but made numerous press statements and TV appearances in which he denied any wrongdoing.
The four top officials are among some dozen ex-ministers and businessmen who are under investigation for corruption or abuse of authority, who have had their bank accounts frozen and were slapped with travel bans.
Britain, France, Germany and the United States say Egypt has called on them to freeze the accounts of ex-officials.
Most of those under investigation belonged to a clique of businessmen-turned-politicians who rallied around Mubarak's son and one-time heir apparent Gamal in the ruling party.
Deputy Minister of Justice Assem El-Gohary who heads the authority responsible for investigating the illegal acquisition of wealth, called on the different state monitoring bodies to report the outcome of all investigations regarding the fortunes of former ministers, members of the People’s Assembly and Shoura Council as well as former officials.