Egypt bans Mubarak travel, freezes assets
CAIRO — Egypt on Monday slapped a ban on ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his family travelling abroad, and also imposed a freeze on their assets, judicial officials said.
Besides Mubarak, who resigned on February 11 following weeks of protests, the decision also applied for his wife Suzanne, his two sons Ala and Gamal, and their wives, according to the same source.
Mubarak stepped down after three decades of iron-fisted rule, handing control over to the army and heading to the Egyptian Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.
On February 21, Egypt’s prosecutor general Abdel Magid Mahmud requested a freeze on the foreign assets of the former president and his family.
The prosecutor charged Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit with contacting foreign countries to seek the assets freeze.
A judicial official said at the time that the prosecutor’s office had received several complaints regarding Mubarak’s wealth being outside the country, “which necessitates an investigation.”
Mubarak 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.
Egyptian authorities have launched numerous judicial proceedings against those close to Mubarak, most of them based on accusations of corruption and fraud.
Corruption of the Egyptian political and economic system was one of the main grievances of the protesters that brought down Mubarak, fuelling social unrest and demands for wage increases.
The announcement of the travel ban and assets freeze came a day after judicial officials said former interior minister Habib al-Adly would go on trial for money laundering from March 5.
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.
Mubarak, 82, has not been seen publicly since he stepped down, amid speculation about his health.
Adly, who was arrested on February 17 along with tourism minister Zoheir Garranah and steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz, would become the first of the toppled president’s regime to face justice.
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.
Mubarak handed power to a military council that pledged to pave the way for a free democratic system in the Arab world’s most populous nation and vowed to prosecute all those found guilty of abuses during the protests.