Switzerland to decide whether to lift or extend Mubarak's assets freeze in February

Ahram Online , Monday 28 Nov 2016

The Swiss foreign ministry will also review assets freezes on deposed leaders from Tunisia and Ukraine

Hosni Mubarak
File Photo: Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak (Photo: Reuters)

Switzerland will decide in February whether to extend or lift a freeze on deposed Egyptian president Hosni’s Mubarak’s assets in Swiss banks, SwissInfo website reported.

According to the website, the Swiss government currently holds frozen about USD 570 million in assets from Egyptian banking clients.

Roberto Balzaretti, the new head of the public international law directorate at the Swiss foreign ministry, said it is likely that the government will review next year whether to extend a number of asset freezes,  including those of Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovich.

According to Balzaretti, Switzerland has returned over the past 30 years almost $2 billion in misappropriated funds deposited in Swiss banks by “politically exposed persons.”

Last July, Switzerland introduced a new law to help seize and repatriate illicit wealth looted by foreign dictators and held in its banks in cases which are not covered by standard asset freezing-restitution procedures and international requests for mutual legal assistance.

The new law “reverses the burden of proof and obliges the account holder to prove the money was earned legally. The law foresees an administrative freezing of assets, which is much more flexible. It also enables us to give technical support such as sending a lawyer or technicians to countries to assist,” said Balzaretti.

In January 2016, Switzerland’s attorney general said that they were still investigating whether the hundreds of millions of dollars in frozen funds linked to Mubarak’s family originated from “money laundering or from supporting and involvement in criminal organizations.”

In the same month, Egypt’s appeals court rejected Mubarak's appeal against a conviction of embezzling public funds, making him the first Egyptian president to be convicted of corruption as the ruling is final and cannot be challenged further.

Mubarak and his two sons were found guilty of embezzling EGP125 million in public funds originally allocated for the upkeep of presidential buildings. The trio served the three-year jail sentences handed to them during their time in pre-trial detention.

Reconciliation to unfreeze

Last August, Egypt's prosecutor-general sent a request to judicial authorities in three countries, including Switzerland, to unfreeze the assets and funds of once-fugitive and Mubarak aide, Egyptian business tycoon Hussein Salem and his family, following a final reconciliation with the Egyptian government.

The requests were sent after the business mogul gave up EGP 5.3 billion (approx. $300 million) to the government, which accounts for 75 percent of his assets in Egypt and abroad, according to the justice ministry.

The Interpol was asked in September by Egyptian authorities to lift the names of Salem and his family off its Red Notice Wanted list.

Salem, 82, fled to Spain shortly after Egypt’s 2011 uprising that overthrew long-time president Hosni Mubarak. He has received two jail terms in absentia over corruption charges including squandering public funds, profiteering and money laundering.


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