Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, February 2011
Egyptian Government Wants Mubarak Family's Foreign Assets Frozen
By News Wires (text)
Egypt's prosecutor general called Monday for a freeze on the foreign assets of Hosni Mubarak's family 10 days after the former president was forced to leave power. Mubarak’s fortune is rumoured to be worth billions of dollars.
Egypt's prosecutor general on Monday requested a freeze on the foreign assets of Hosni Mubarak and his family, 10 days after the longtime president resigned in the face of a popular uprising.
Abdel Magid Mahmud tasked Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit with contacting foreign countries to seek a freeze on assets held by Mubarak, his wife Suzanne, sons Alaa and Gamal and their wives Heidi Rasekh and Khadiga al-Gammal, his office said.
Mubarak is widely thought to have grown wealthy during his three decades in power, although an unidentified legal adviser was quoted by the state-run MENA news agency on Sunday as saying talk of a multi-billion-dollar fortune was nothing but "a groundless rumour".
Switzerland, which froze Mubarak's assets within hours of his resignation on February 11, said on Sunday that the former president had "tens of millions of francs" in Swiss financial institutions.
"We do not yet know if these funds are legitimate or not," said Swiss foreign ministry spokesman Stefan von Below, adding that if they had been illegally obtained, "competent judicial bodies will decide who are the entitled parties".
Twelve people have had their assets pre-emptively frozen by Switzerland, including Mubarak's immediate family members as well as four of his government ministers.
One Swiss franc is worth about one US dollar or 77 euro cents.
The fate of Mubarak's assets in the European Union was likely to come up on Tuesday when EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton visits Cairo, after ambassadors from the 27 EU member states agreed in principle in Brussels on Friday to freeze the assets of members of his inner circle.
Mubarak, 82, withdrew to his heavily guarded villa in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh on the day he stepped down. He has not been publicly seen since, amid speculation about his health.
In the remarks carried Sunday by MENA, Mubarak's legal adviser "categorically denied false and misleading information" about Mubarak's wealth in both foreign and domestic news media.
Such speculation, he said, was meant "to undermine his reputation, his honesty... and the honourable history of Mubarak in the service of the homeland for 62 years."
Nationwide protests erupted on January 25, ending Mubarak's firm grip on power in less than three weeks and sending shockwaves far beyond the borders of the Arab world's most populous nation.
Around 365 people were killed and about 5,500 wounded during the 18 days of protests which led to Mubarak's resignation and a military rule headed by Defence Minister Hussein Tantawi.
EU may freeze assets of Mubarak henchmen
EU ministers will meet Tuesday to discuss whether to comply with Egypt's request to freeze assets belonging to the henchmen of former President Hosni Mubarak. Also up for discussion is possible investment in countries across the Arab world.
EU ministers will decide Tuesday on Egypt's request to freeze the assets of ousted president Hosni Mubarak's henchmen, and consider French proposals for a web of investment across the Arab world.
After Cairo asked the European Union's three biggest powers -- Britain, France and Germany -- to block bank accounts, finance ministers from all 27 EU member states will tackle the issue today.
The Mubarak clan's millions By Kethevane GORJESTANI
Monday evening's session in the two-day talks on the euro debt crisis ended early with the surprise announcement that ministers had agreed a 500-billion-euro fund for eurozone states in financial difficulties.
That allowed ministers to ministers to re-focus on the issues arising from the wave of popular uprisings in the Arab world.
London's finance minister George Osborne argued for a pledge by all 27 EU states to strip the assets of the closest associates of Egypt's ousted strongman Hosni Mubarak.
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde called for a radical new web of investment across growth-challenged Europe's southern Mediterranean rim to encourage the fledgling democratic revival.
Italy's preoccupation however, was a request for EU financial support to fund more measures to protect its vulnerable coastline from a wave of post-revolutionary illegal immigration, mainly out of Tunisia.
European treasuries are still preoccupied with a sliding currency, rising bond yields -- particularly in Portugal -- and a looming leadership vaccuum at the head of the European Central Bank.
But the historic events in Egypt have transformed the ministers' agenda.
A senior diplomat said riches accumulated by "six or seven" Egyptians, although "definitely not including Mubarak," were being targeted.
Amid rumours of serious ill-health, Mubarak's name "was not even discussed or debated," said the diplomat.
The EU could use a United Nations convention against corruption as grounds for action, he added.
Some Egyptians still support Mubarak
FRANCE 24's special correspondent Virginie Herz and Tatiana Massaad report.
Already last Friday, the Swiss government ordered a freeze on any assets belonging to Mubarak and his entourage, just hours after his downfall.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague drew a comparison with EU-wide action against Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, toppled last month in a revolt that inspired anti-Mubarak forces in Egypt.
"If there is any evidence of illegality or misuse of state assets we will take firm and prompt action," Hague said.
On Monday, a senior official in the US State Department confirmed that Egypt's new government had also asked it to freeze assets of officials who had worked under Mubarak -- but not Mubarak himself.
Tuesday's discussion will cover "financial and economic aspects" arising from a protest movement that is also affecting Algeria and others, said Lagarde.
She wants EU and member-state "investment" mobilised in a bid to "support the democratic movement taking root in these countries."
The debate may however be complicated by Italy's demand for 100 million euros ($134 million) in aid after some 5,000 migrants landed on outlying EU island territory Lampedusa in a five-day period.
In a telephone conversation with EU president Herman Van Rompuy, Berlusconi made it clear the situation "is urgent and concerns all of the European Union," said a statement from Rome.
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