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Egypt seeks to freeze Mubarak family’s foreign assets

Former president asserts he has no overseas accounts

By Maggie Michael
Associated Press / February 22, 2011

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CAIRO — Egypt’s top prosecutor has requested the freezing of the foreign assets of ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his family, announced state TV.

Security officials said that the prosecutor general asked the Foreign Ministry yesterday to contact countries around the world so they can freeze his assets abroad. Mubarak’s domestic 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, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk to the press.

The announcement came as British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in Cairo to meet with top Egyptian officials, the first trip of a world leader since Mubarak’s fall. He said he would talk to those in charge to ensure “this really is a genuine transition’’ to civilian rule.

Egyptian state media had quoted Mubarak’s legal representative on Sunday as saying the former president had submitted to authorities a declaration that he had no assets abroad. The former president is believed to be residing in his estate at the distant Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Egypt has so far asked for asset freezes of one top businessman and former ruling party official, as well as four former Cabinet ministers and detained them pending investigations.

The 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.

Egyptian youth activists meeting with foreign diplomats in Cairo yesterday, also singled out the search for Mubarak’s assets as one of the ways other countries could help Egypt following the three-week uprising that transfixed the world.

“When Egypt gets back that money, it won’t need the foreign aid, and you will be relieved of that burden,’’ said Islam Lutfi, who represents the Muslim Brotherhood on the activist coalition.

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