CAIRO: The EU renewed on Thursday its freeze on the assets of deposed president Hosni Mubark, his two sons, and several members of his regime, said head of the Illicit Gains Authority (IGA) Ibrahim al-Henedy.
The decision comes in response to an IGA official request to the EU to freeze the assets of 19 members of Mubarak’s regime, Henedy told Youm7, adding that judicial decisions that upheld the decision to freeze their assets were enclosed in the official request.
The EU freeze began in January 2011, after Mubarak was ousted in the January 25 Revolution, and has now been extended another year to March 22, 2015. “On the basis of a review of Decision 2011/172/CFSP, the restrictive measures contained in that decision should be renewed,” a Friday EU statement read.
The EU sanction has been renewed annually, in 2012, 2013, and now 2014, except for a brief period where the freeze was lifted from November 2012 (following the establishment of Mohamed Morsi’s government) to March 2013, on the understanding the funds would return to Egypt.
When the freeze was lifted in November 2012, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton said in a press statement that the unfrozen funds would be handed over to the Egyptian authorities. “The return of funds misappropriated by the previous regimes in Tunisia and Egypt is a priority for us. The EU will spare no effort to help return this money to the people of these two countries.”
Yet at the time the freeze was to be renewed in March 2013, the sanction was reinstated at the request of Morsi’s government.
With the approach of another period of review for the sanction in 2014, the current interim government put together a proposal to once again renew the freeze. In September 2013, Henedy, with the IGA, discussed with EU and U.K. representatives ways to facilitate the return of misappropriated funds to the Egyptian government, according to Al Watan newspaper. The outcome of that meeting and proposal would be the renewed freeze on Friday.
The EU has not explicitly stated the total worth of funds frozen 2011 and unfrozen in 2012; however, the Swiss Federal Council in November 2013 extended a freeze on assets of Mubarak and his regime members in Switzerland worth around $782 million for three years, according to Al-Ahram Online.
The U.K. was quick to probe Mubarak’s assets in the U.K., after some domestic pressure for a speedier investigation in the 2012 documentary entitled “Egypt’s Stolen Billions.” In January 2013, a U.K. delegation visited Cairo to discuss the return of the assets obtained illegally by Mubarak’s regime, reported Egypt Independent.
Facing resistance, however, the U.K. complained that the Egyptian authorities had not provided enough information to take further steps, and the delegation continued to work on confirming the information it received. “We are trying to make sure that the information provided by authorities in Egypt is the information we need,” said Jeremy Browne, minister of state for crime prevention, and head of the delegation.
Apart from Mubark, his two sons and his wife, the asset freeze list includes Mubarak’s Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, his Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, and Egypt’s steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz.