Swiss official: Return of Mubarak’s funds will take time

A Swiss bank official has warned that money transferred to Switzerland by former President Hosni Mubarak may take some years to be repatriated to Egypt, and that the process will be complex and fraught with administrative hurdles.

Pierre Lars, a lawyer at the Swiss central bank, said the funds it has frozen, amounting to SF410 million, do not belong to Hosni Mubarak alone, but also to other members of his family, including his grandchildren.

He said that freezing the money is a precautionary measure, and that the existence of the money in itself does not oblige the bank to return it to Egypt until the Egyptian Foreign Ministry submits an official request, together with unequivocal proof that the money was siphoned out of the country by illegal means. Such proof would depend on a satisfactory court ruling issued by a civilian, not a military, court and would entail a fair and transparent trial.

Lars also said that repatriation is a complicated process that could take up to 17 years to complete in order to ensure complete objectivity. He pointed out that in previous cases involving Arab dictators, no more than 20 percent of the targeted funds were ultimately repatriated.

He said that Mubarak’s money was laundered several times in the past 30 years, and that its repatriation would stop in the case of his death.

Commenting on Mubarak’s statement in which he said he did not have money abroad, Lars said the claim was partially true, as most of his European wealth is in the form of assets and investments, and not liquid money deposited in his name.

He also said that the fact that the frozen liquid money belongs to other members of the Mubarak family as well does not mean it would not be returned, as the law stipulates the return of illegal money even if it is deposited in the names of others.

Meanwhile, Assistant Justice Minister for Illicit Gains Assem al-Gohary said that the money frozen in Switzerland belongs to 18 people close to Mubarak.

He added that on Tuesday, the judicial committee formed to handle the return of the money discussed with a Swiss law office the legal procedures for disclosing these accounts.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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