Hosni Mubarak's early Christmas present: $700 million

Hosni Mubarak's early Christmas present: $700 million
A group of experts have warned that Mubarak may be reunited with his ill-gotten wealth by Christmas, as the orders to freeze his accounts may soon be lifted.
2 min read
27 October, 2017
Hosni Mubarak at a retrial for embezzlement on May 9, 2015 [AFP]
Deposed Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, may be reunited with his ill-gotten wealth by Christmas, a group of human rights activists have warned.

Mubarak's Swiss fortune, estimated at $700 million, was frozen by the Swiss authority following his arrest in 2011, but could soon be released due to a lack of political interest.

"The Swiss authorities review their freezing orders in December and they could decide to release the funds then," said Olivier Longchamp, a finance expert at the Swiss NGO, Public Eye.

"They released a quarter of his wealth this way last December and they could do the same again this year."

According to Public Eye's most recent report, Mubarak's  bank accounts, which activists say were swollen through decades of stealing public assets, are currently frozen through two orders. The attorney general (OAG) has already lifted their freezing order and the federal authorities may cancel their secondary order at any moment.

Mubarak and his two sons lost an appeal to overturn a conviction for embezzling public funds in January 2016.

After the 2011 revolution, Swiss authorities organised a co-operation agreement with Egypt over information sharing in corruption cases, but the OAG confirmed to The New Arab this agreement has since been closed without any results.

According to Longchamps, any actual evidence of corruption has all but dried up and, without this evidence, the legal basis of upholding a freezing order remains tenuous.

"If Egyptian courts clear the account holder, and if Swiss courts do not make a final conviction, then the freezing measures may be lifted in Switzerland," Valentin Zellweger, a Swiss official, said in 2013.

The OAG refused to comment on whether the freezing orders would be lifted.

One other alternative could be that Mubarak enters a plea deal with the Egyptian government - agreeing to hand over a certain percentage of his wealth in exchange for certain privileges.

The legal precedent for this lies with Hussein Salem, possibly Egypt's most reclusive businessman and Mubarak's right-hand businessman. Salem agreed to a similar deal in August, agreeing to donate 75 percent of his wealth in exchange for all charges being dropped. His assets, still worth hundreds of millions of dollars were then unfrozen and released.

"The Swiss authorities won't be able to seize Mubarak's money," said Longchamp.

"It might stay frozen, but they need a conviction to seize that money. With no evidence coming through from Egypt - they won't be able to prove the money is illicit."