Update: Elections committee rejects Ahmed Ezz’s candidacy papers

Ahmed Ezz’s fight to run for parliament may be over after the High Elections Commission (HEC) rejected his candidacy papers on Monday, stating they were incomplete.

The problem reportedly lies with the National Post Office account Ezz opened to accept campaign donations, a source from the Monufiya HEC office told the privately owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm. A prosecution-ordered freeze on all of Ezz’s bank accounts is still in force, leaving the scandal-plagued politican with no active account.

The post office account was Ezz’s way around the freeze, but it has now been closed and the assets frozen, according to the source.

Local media was abuzz after the the privately owned newspaper Al-Watan reported that Ezz had successfully submitted his papers last Thursday to run in the Sadat constituency, with a ship as his electoral symbol.

The elections commission had disqualified Ezz from running for parliament last February. But elections were halted a month later when the Supreme Constitutional Court found the electoral constituency divisions law unconstitutional. At the end of August, an HEC official told local media that Ezz, and any other candidates previously barred from running, would be allowed to re-nominate themselves in September.

Then last Tuesday, the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) turned down Ezz’s appeal against the February disqualification. The SAC said Ezz had still failed to provide documents including financial disclosures for his second wife, Shahinaz al-Naggar, according to the privately owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm. Furthermore, a prosecution-ordered freeze on all of Ezz’s bank accounts was still in force, leaving him with no active bank account to receive campaign donations. The court said that in order to overcome this hurdle, Ezz would need to submit a request to the prosecution to exempt one of his bank accounts from the freeze.

Mohamed Hamouda, Ezz’s lawyer, said that the SAC ruling only pertains to the postponed March 2015 elections, and thus has no bearing on his client’s current application, the privately owned newspaper Al-Shorouk reported.

Wael Omran, a commission official, told Al-Watan that the HEC decided to accept Ezz’s nomination papers on Thursday after he provided information for his new National Post Office account. At the time, the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram stated that state officials would not be allowed to seize or freeze the campaign donations held in that account.

Hamouda added that his client filed a complaint against the head of Misr Bank for refusing to allow Ezz to open a new account there.

His potential candidacy had stirred controversy, given Ezz’s close relationship to former President Hosni Mubarak and the numerous corruption charges levied against him following the 2011 revolution. Ezz was a leading figure in the now-dissolved National Democratic Party’s parliamentary bloc in 2005 and is viewed as a member of Gamal Mubarak’s inner circle, which is blamed for the corruption that skyrocketed during Mubarak’s last 10 years in office.

Ezz, who is also the chairman of Ezz Steel, served three years in prison for corruption, embezzlement and monopolizing Egypt’s steel market. He was released in August of last year.

Note: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that Ezz was officially an electoral candidate. It has been amended to reflect that he has submitted his candidacy application papers. 

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