Egypt wants freeze of Mubarak's foreign assets

Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak looks on during a meeting at the presidential palace in Cairo Feb. 8, 2011. AP Photo

CAIRO - Egypt's top prosecutor requested on Monday the freezing of the foreign assets of ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his family, announced state TV.

Security officials said that the prosecutor general requested the Foreign Ministry to ask other nations to freeze any assets of Mubarak and his family abroad. The president's local assets were frozen soon after he stepped down, they added.

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.

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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.

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 detained them pending investigations.

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

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