Egypt’s looted money. How did the family of Hosni Mubarak manage to keep the billions?

After an absence of more than ten years, the son of former Egyptian President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, Gamal Mubarak, finally appeared and declared his victory in the money recovery file, claiming that his hand was clean from corruption and abuse of office, and that these millions dollars entering the family’s bank accounts were legal and lawful by virtue of the judiciary.

And 18 days in the fields of Egypt was enough to end the 30-year rule of former Egyptian President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak. The downfall made it possible to open many previously held files, one of which is the file of Mubarak’s wealth and his family.

Egyptian sources have estimated that these funds amount to more than $ 25 billion; However, more than 10 years after the outbreak of the January 25 revolution, Egypt could not recover the smuggled funds abroad. On the contrary, in April 2022, the European Court of Justice issued a ruling confirming the thawing of the late president’s family funds. .

What happened during these years, and what prompted the European Court of Justice to reverse the decision to freeze?

Lack of real effort

In this context, David Devers, lawyer for the European Court of Justice, is of the opinion that no real effort has been made to recover these funds.

In an interview with Al-Araby, he said: “Egypt did not provide explicit evidence to proceed with the lawsuit in the right direction, especially since this file contained many documents.”

He added, “There is a lot of information, such as that the Mubarak family bought land for a cheap price, then sold it to some investors and made the maximum profit, and then transferred all the money to Europe or to Dubai. has.”

But Devers expressed his understanding of the verdict, though it was shocking, and asked, “On what grounds do you want to confiscate this enormous amount of money without a convincing reason?”

In turn, economic researcher Omar Samir explained that seven committees had been set up to pursue these funds, “but unfortunately sufficient evidence has not been submitted to the European Court of Justice, and no final rulings have been issued condemning the Mubarak regime. . “

Freezing of the funds of 19 Egyptian personalities

Under popular pressure related to Mubarak’s fortune abroad, and only 37 days after he retired, the European Union took a decision to freeze the funds of 19 personalities linked to the Mubarak regime. But the freezing decision alone was not enough, as the freezing of the funds did not guarantee their return to Egypt.

Devers said: “I think any follower of the events in Egypt will know the catastrophic situation. The laws are not at the required level, and these are not my words, but the words of the European Court. The judicial defense in the case was late and the evidence was not presented in the right way. “

He added: “Therefore we can say that mistakes have been made,” and wondered, “How can a political official accumulate this wealth?” He pointed out that the judges knew very well that this wealth came from corruption, but the arguments and evidence of the Egyptian authority were very weak.

Swiss procedures

In turn, former al-Azhar University professor of economics Ahmed Zikrallah indicated that Swiss measures were stricter and more receptive to the situation compared to the Egyptian administration. In 2011, Swiss prosecutor Mubarak froze funds and banned their handling. He also banned funds from some 17 Egyptian personalities, then increased them to include 30 personalities.

The ban was extended from 2013 to 2016, and was only released in 2022. Zikrallah said: “The Swiss public prosecutor was more eager to get the Egyptian people these funds back from successive Egyptian administrations from 2011 to 2022.”

The Egyptian state had to provide convincing evidence from day one that these funds were obtained from corruption or abuse of office, which did not happen. The accused in these cases rather obtained a verdict of acquittal. Since 2011, Egyptian governments have not responded to the European Union’s request to provide details of the major transfers that took place in Egypt during and after the January 25 revolution.

Recognition of financial reconciliation

God mentioned that this is the second phase that happened in 2015 when the Egyptian government amended the Code of Criminal Procedure in the part related to Egyptian public money, which gave the possibility of reconciliation to convicts.

In August 2012, Andes Lotter, British MP and shadow minister of justice, stood in front of the House of Commons and asked the Egyptians for details that would help him pressure the British government to return the former regime’s money smuggled out of the country. is.

At the time, the British Treasury froze £ 85 million in assets and bank accounts linked to Mubarak and his family.

Despite this, the British authorities did not take seriously the issue of the freezing, which was revealed by an investigation of the “Draj” website in the “Panama Papers” investigations. The investigation revealed that the company “Pan World Investment”, owned by the eldest son of Mubarak Alaa, founded in 1993, was active in the Virgin Islands even after the decision to freeze.

This file was of interest to the foreign press, and therefore leaks began about the amount of money smuggled out of Egypt, including the leak published in February 2015 by the Union of Investigative Journalists.

How could the Mubarak family smuggle money?

This leak raised the question of how the Mubarak family and Mubarak figures were able to smuggle money out of Egypt, to achieve more than one result.

Mubarak used companies as a front to smuggle money, which enabled Gamal Mubarak and Alaa Mubarak to smuggle a lot of money due to their participation in Egyptian companies through a complex network of investment funds abroad. This method relies on companies in tax havens that hide the identity of their owners.

Through these companies located in Britain, Mauritius and Cyprus, the Mubarak brothers reached the Egyptian investment market.

The person who managed this operation was Hussein Salem, a well-known Egyptian businessman. And Salem chose a bank that allowed the burial of money, and that was Credit Suisse. And this bank has become the favorite of the big owners of suspicious money in Egypt, and Hussein Salem has even persuaded figures like Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to work with this bank, which Salem acknowledged in the investigations.

The Mubarak family also worked to hide assets by buying real estate in one country through an intermediary company in another country. The house where Alaa Mubarak lived in London was owned by a company in Panama.

Interference with the judiciary

Al-Araby’s investigation found that there was a political and legal problem facing the Egyptian state in the file of money recovery, and it appears that the state had no intention of overcoming it.

Government interference in the judiciary is one of the main reasons that has hindered cooperation between the Egyptian state and international institutions, which has encouraged countries such as Switzerland not to cooperate with the file of freezing Egyptian funds in some of their banks or for it to send back to Egypt. Due to the institutional structure in Egypt and financial reconciliation agreements with some personalities such as Gamal Mubarak and Hussein Salem in 2016, as stated in a report entitled “How Switzerland released the money of a famous Egyptian figure.”

The series of leaks in this case continues, including a leak from the Swiss bank “Credit Suisse”, which was published by 46 news organizations around the world, including the website “Daraj”.

The investigation revealed the names of ten Egyptian personalities who owned large amounts of accounts in that bank, including Gamal and Alaa Mubarak, who owned 6 accounts, one of which since 2003, with a value of $ 196 million.

Gamal Mubarak did not provide how Gamal Mubarak obtained this money. According to Al-Araby, the two men were forced to work with a number of businessmen in the agencies of foreign companies, in exchange for being able to work in Egypt.

Existence of legal argument and absence of political intent

Despite these leaks and figures proving beyond any doubt that the Mubarak family obtained these funds either through corruption or by taking advantage of the position, which strengthens the legal argument in this case, the Egyptian state has not been able to do so since 2011. succeed in providing conclusive evidence Confirm the validity of the suspicions.

Economics professor Zikrallah confirmed that the main problem was in the Egyptian judiciary, as European investigations indicated that there was no evidence of corruption in Egypt.

This brings us back to what was published about an agreement between President Mubarak and the military, in which the military guarantees that Mubarak’s wealth will not be affected, in exchange for his acceptance to retire, which opens the door to many question marks. about the extent of the state’s seriousness since day one regarding the recovery of its money and assets from abroad.

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