Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court accepted Monday the appeal filed by the Egyptian national committee to retrieve funds and assets abroad. The court will resume investigating charges against former president Hosni Mubarak, his family, and other associates of supporting and forming a criminal organisation.
In June 2015, the Swiss attorney general decided to halt investigations into the case, but the Egyptian government appealed the decision. The Swiss authorities, however, continued investigating the money laundering charges and the assets were kept frozen.
Researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) Osama Diab told Daily News Egypt that 32 people are involved in the case, including Mubarak and his family. He said that the investigations were stopped in 2015 because the evidence proving that Mubarak was supporting and forming a criminal organisation was insufficient.
He added that the Egyptian government is a civilian party in this case, so it appealed the decision. According to the Swiss criminal code, if there is suspicion that there is organised crime, then the assets should be frozen based on the reverse burden of proof. This means that the burden of proof will be shifted to the defendant instead of the prosecution, and the defendants have to prove the legitimate source of their gains.
The investigations against Mubarak and his family commenced after he stepped down on 8 February 2011, as the Swiss attorney general opened investigations into charges of money laundering and participating or forming a criminal organisation.
If the investigations proved that the gains were illicit, the frozen CHF 530m will be returned to Egypt, according to Swiss law. Egyptian and Swiss prosecutors are jointly investigating the charges; however, the investigations were suspended several times due to alleged lack of cooperation from the Egyptian side.
Meanwhile, Egyptian general prosecutor Nabil Sadek, who is also the head of the Illicit Gains Authority, sent a request on Tuesday to the judicial authorities in Switzerland, Spain, and Hong Kong to unfreeze the assets of business tycoon and prominent figure during Mubarak’s era Hussein Salem. He also requested Salem’s name be lifted from those barred from travelling, after a reconciliation deal with the authorities was finalised.
Salem returned about EGP 5.3bn from his fortune to Egypt, which amounts to about 75% of his financial wealth inside and outside Egypt. However, in an investigative report published recently by privately owned news outlet Mada Masr, it disclosed that Salem’s assets weren’t all included during his reconciliation deal with the Illicit Gains Authority, and that what he had paid to the government may represent less than 25% of his real fortune .
Salem fled to Spain right after the 25 January Revolution, and received prison sentences in absentia over charges of squandering public funds and money laundering.
The Illicit Gains Authority refused to reconcile with Mubarak and his sons, as they offered to pay EGP 147m. However, their illicit gains alleged a total of EGP 27bn. The Illicit Gains Law has been recently amended to allow figures associated with the Mubarak era to pay back a portion of their wealth to the Egyptian government, in exchange for the dismissal of corruption charges against them.
The authority accepted about 10 reconciliation deals from 10 Mubarak allies in August, after former justice minister Ahmed Al-Zind claimed that these reconciliation deals are the only way Egypt can retrieve the funds and assets abroad.