Last Updated: Tue Feb 22, 2011 08:04 am (KSA) 05:04 am (GMT)

Egypt prosecutor asks for freezing Mubarak assets

Egypt's freeze applies to Mubarak, his wife, his two sons and two daughters-in-law (File)
Egypt's freeze applies to Mubarak, his wife, his two sons and two daughters-in-law (File)

Egypt's public prosecutor requested the freezing of the assets of former president Hosni Mubarak and his family, announced the state TV on Monday.

The announcement said the move was aimed at seizing the former ruling family's domestic holdings. Security officials added that the prosecutor general has also requested the Foreign Minister to ask other nations to freeze any assets abroad.

The freeze applies to Mubarak, his wife, his two sons and two daughters-in-law, they say. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to talk to the press.

A day earlier, official media quoted Mubarak's legal representative as saying the former president had submitted to authorities a declaration of his wealth and that he had no assets abroad. The former president is believed to currently be residing in his estate at the distant Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Ex-ministers & businessmen

Egypt has so far asked for asset freezes for one top Egyptian businessman and former ruling party official, as well as four former Cabinet ministers and imposed travel bans on them.

Egypt, meanwhile, referred the former interior and tourism ministers to a criminal court, the state news agency reported, after protesters demanded officials be held to account for squandering the nation's wealth.

Public prosecutor Abdel Hamid Mahmoud "issued a decision to transfer former Interior Minister Habib al-Adli and former Tourism Minister Zuhair Garana to an urgent criminal trial in the Cairo criminal court," MENA news agency reported.

Adli was charged with money laundering and profiteering, and Garana was accused of intentionally damaging public funds and allowing others to benefit financially.

Between $1 and $70 bln

Mubarak family's wealth - speculation has put it at anywhere from $1 billion to $70 billion - has come under growing scrutiny since Mubarak's Feb. 11 ouster opened the floodgates to three decades of pent-up anger at the regime.

Watchdog groups allege that under Mubarak, top officials and tycoons were given preferential treatment in land contracts, allowed to buy state industries at a fraction of their value during Egypt's privatization process launched in the early 1990s, and got other perks that enabled them to increase their wealth exponentially. The perks came at a price - and the Mubaraks were major beneficiaries, the activists say.

The most prominent symbol of their presumed fortune that has surfaced was a townhouse in London's exclusive Knightsbridge district, which is listed to Gamal Mubarak and where he was said to have lived while working as an investment banker in the early 1990s.

The townhouse has become a focal point for many in Egypt as foreign governments begin to either enact, or consider imposing freezes on their assets.

Switzerland seizes millions

The Swiss government said on Monday it has seized "several dozens of millions" francs held in Swiss banks by the deposed presidents of Egypt and Tunisia, but has not frozen assets of any current leaders in North Africa and the Gulf.

The government is monitoring unrest in Libya, Bahrain and other states in the region, said government spokesman Andrea Simonazzi.

"The government is following the situation very closely, but no decisions have been taken (on freezing further assets). The next government session is on Wednesday," he said.

"When the government decides to freeze assets, it is the work of the banks to identify these assets and announce them to the justice department so we know what they have found."

Earlier this month Switzerland, the world's biggest offshore banking centre, ordered a freeze of assets that might belong to Mubarak shortly after he stepped down.

The Swiss foreign ministry said on Monday "several dozens of millions" held in Swiss banks by Mubarak and his entourage had been frozen along with "several dozens of millions" of francs held by deposed Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Violent protests against long-time Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have spread to the capital Tripoli, where dozens of people were reported killed overnight.

Swiss relations with Libya soured in 2008 when Geneva police arrested a son of Gaddafi on charges -- later dropped -- of abusing two domestic employees.

Libya withdrew millions of dollars from Swiss banks, halted oil exports to Switzerland and barred two Swiss businessmen working in Libya from leaving the country.

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