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Friday, 26 February 2021

Egypt: Mubarak fortune still under sequestration

Following the death of Hosni Mubarak speculation has reignited over the extent of his family’s wealth

Gamal Essam El-Din , Thursday 5 Mar 2020
Mubarak fortune still under sequestration
Mubarak
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After Hosni Mubarak relinquished power on 11 February 2011 the late president’s wealth attracted scrutiny from the Western media. The UK newspaper The Guardian estimated his fortune at as much as $70 billion, a figure dwarfed by the US Washington Post which claimed that the fortune amassed by the Mubarak family could exceed $700 billion.

The London-based Daily Telegraph joined the fray, claiming that a senior Western intelligence source had told it Mubarak had amassed a fortune of more than $3 billion during his 30 years in power. In the US, ABC News cited a US intelligence source estimating the fortune of Mubarak and his family could be as high as $5 billion. The Financial Times said $10 billion would be a reasonable estimate.

After Mubarak died on 25 February the extent of his fortune again hit the headlines. Mubarak’s lawyer Farid Al-Deeb told Al-Watan newspaper on 1March that “most, if not all, of what has been published on Mubarak’s wealth throughout the past nine years is incorrect”.

Al-Deeb has repeatedly claimed Mubarak’s wealth does not exceed $1 million and that “President Mubarak gathered this modest fortune from his basic salary as president and from the financial rewards he obtained through long years of service as a military commander”.

In 2018 Mubarak told the pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Arabia that he would welcome a probe into his personal wealth and insisted neither he nor his family held assets outside Egypt.

What wealth Mubarak did possess, says Al-Deeb, remains under sequestration.

“The Illicit Gains Office, which is affiliated to the Ministry of Justice, opened a probe into President Mubarak’s wealth in 2011, when it decided to sequestrate his assets. That sequestration order remains in place.”

On 22 February, three days before Mubarak’s death, a Cairo Criminal Court acquitted the former president’s two sons Alaa and Gamal in a case that involved accusations of manipulating the stock market.

Following the acquittal Al-Deeb said the court is expected to issue a second ruling on 11 March allowing Gamal and Alaa access to their assets and, after nine years, to remove their names from the travel ban list. Other sources, however, say Mubarak’s sons will only be allowed to travel abroad when the Illicit Gains Office closes the probe into the Mubarak family’s wealth.

Hosni Mubarak’s funeral, held on 29 February, attracted hundreds of mourners, including cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, state officials and cinema and football stars. From 4pm on 28 February to 1am on 29 February Al-Salam Hall, affiliated to the Moushir Tantawi Mosque east of Cairo, was packed with people who had come to offer condolences to Alaa and Gamal.

The wife of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi arrived to offer condolences to Mubarak’s wife Suzanne. Minister of Defence Mohamed Zaki returned from a visit to Pakistan on Saturday morning and went directly to offer his condolences to the former president's family.

Mubarak-era officials including the former president’s chief of staff Zakaria Azmi, prime ministers Ahmed Nazif and Ahmed Shafiq, speaker of parliament Fathi Sorour, minister of information Anas Al-Fiki and minister of interior Habib Al-Adli were all on hand, as were former foreign ministers Amr Moussa and Ahmed Abul-Gheit. Abul-Gheit is the current secretary-general of the Arab League.

Notable absentees from the influx of mourners were Safwat Al-Sherif, Mubarak’s long-serving minister of information and secretary-general of the ruling National Democratic Party, and Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak’s long-serving minister of defence.

A tweet on Sunday by MP and journalist Mostafa Bakri dismissed reports that had appeared in the press claiming Tantawi’s health was in a critical condition.

“I have been assured by many people close to him that Field Marshal Tantawi is in a good health and suffers only from pains in his leg,” tweeted Bakri.

Bakri said the fact President Al-Sisi considers Mubarak  a war hero and was keen to attend his military funeral on 26 February was one of the reasons so many public figures turned up to offer condolences to the Mubarak family.

Politician Mohamed Abul-Ghar said the funeral was an official military event and “differed markedly from funerals in the past when millions of citizens turned out into the streets, the best example of which is probably Gamal Abdel-Nasser’s funeral in 1970”.

Political economist Ahmed Galal said “comments posted on social media reflect that Egyptians are still divided over Mubarak’s 30-year”.

“While some cite Mubarak’s heroic participation in the 1973 War others have referred to the repeated rigging of elections under his rule and alleged he was preparing his son to inherit power.”

*A version of this article appears in print in the 5 March, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

 

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