CAIRO (AFP) – The net closed tighter around ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his family on Monday as authorities imposed an asset freeze and banned them from leaving the country, judicial officials said.
“We are freezing the assets of former officials, including the ex-president and his family. Assets of some former ministers and officials have also been frozen, and they have been prevented from leaving the country pending investigations,” Egypt’s deputy justice minister Omar El-Sherif told the UN Human Rights Council on Monday.
Mubarak, whose resigned on February 11 after 30 years of rule following weeks of protests, is widely thought to have grown wealthy during his rule, but an unidentified legal adviser has been quoted as saying talk of a multi-billion-dollar fortune was nothing but “a groundless rumour”.
However, the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported that the Mubarak family had “secret accounts in Egyptian banks,” including deposits of $147 million for his wife Suzanne and $100 million each for his sons Ala and Gamal and their wives Heidi Rasekh and Khadiga al-Gammal.
The paper did not estimate the former president’s personal wealth.
Egypt’s prosecutor general Abdel Magid Mahmud requested a freeze on the foreign assets of the former president and his family last week.
The prosecutor charged Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit with contacting foreign countries to seek the assets freeze.
France said on Wednesday last week that it would back the Egyptian request.
“We are also working with our European partners to respond best to the request from the Egyptian authorities,” said French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero.
Switzerland, which froze Mubarak’s assets within hours of his resignation, previously said the former president had “tens of millions of francs” in Swiss financial institutions.
“We do not yet know if these funds are legitimate or not,” said Swiss foreign ministry spokesman Stefan von Belo last week, adding that if they had been illegally obtained, “competent judicial bodies will decide who are the entitled parties”.
Twelve people have had their assets pre-emptively frozen by Switzerland, including four of Mubarak’s government ministers.
The UK last week said it was waiting for an official request from Egyptian authorities before freezing the assets of Mubarak and his acolytes.
The announcement of the travel ban and asset freeze came a day after judicial officials said former interior minister Habib al-Adly would go on trial for money laundering from March 5.
Adly, who was arrested on February 17 along with tourism minister Zoheir Garranah, housing minister Ahmad al-Maghrabi and steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz, would become the first of the old regime to face trial.
Egyptian authorities have launched numerous judicial proceedings against those close to Mubarak, most based on accusations of corruption and fraud, which were among the main grievances of the protesters that brought down Mubarak.
The protests, which lasted 18 days and saw bloody clashes between protesters and Adly’s security forces, left at least 384 people dead and more than 6,000 injured, while scores were detained.
Egypt’s ruling military council has pledged to pave the way for a free democratic system and to prosecute all those found guilty of abuses during the protests.