Don’t release Egypt's Frozen Assets in Switzerland!
4 December 2017
On 11th of February 2011, the day of Mubarak’s downfall, the Federal Council decided to freeze assets of former Egyptian President and his entourage. In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, the money frozen in Switzerland in relation to Egypt reached 700 million Swiss francs. However, it is to be feared that the funds will soon be released back to those previously associated with the Mubarak regime, despite the great hope that the Egyptian people held in the return of this money. In December 2016, the Federal Council already decided to release 180 million Swiss francs belonging to some of Mubarak’s cronies. And in September 2017, the General Attorney’s Office of Switzerland announced that the mutual legal assistance procedures with Egypt had been terminated without any material results. The cooperation with Egyptian judicial authorities failed.
The Egyptian case shows the inadequacy of the Swiss law for dealing with money from PEPs: the path of mutual legal assistance did not prove the illicit origin of the assets, and the funds could therefore not be seized. In these circumstances, it is likely that the money still frozen in Switzerland will be released to the benefit of those who were suspected to have diverted it. An important part of the remaining 430 million Swiss francs still frozen in Switzerland belongs to Mubarak’s sons.
The Federal Council is expected to take a decision soon. In an open letter, Public Eye and its partners organisations urge him to extend its freezing order, that will expire on 10th of February 2018, and to explore alternative ways to seize the Egyptian money that is still frozen in Switzerland, taking into account the fact that the procedures opened in Switzerland did not fail because this money is licit, but because the cooperation with Egyptian judicial authorities failed.