Egyptian officials in Geneva seek to recover illicit funds of former regime
Photo courtesy of star.worldbank

CAIRO: Egypt will co-chair the third Arab Forum on Asset Recovery (AFAR) Saturday in Geneva to put forward a draft law enabling Egypt to recover stolen assets without a prior final ruling.

Attorney General Hisham Barakat, Minister of Justice Mahfouz Saber, Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) money laundering head Adel al-Saeed and other officials in the Ministry of Interior and the public prosecution left to Switzerland Friday to participate in the forum running until Monday.

The bill proposes that Switzerland not investigate Egypt’s judicial rulings or the way the illicit funds were credited into private banks, Youm7 reported.

Former Illicit Gains Authority head Assem al-Gohary said during the first convention of AFAR in Qatar in 2012 that industrialized countries refused to forfeit the illicit money by demanding a lot of evidence, according to the Swiss Info news website.

There has not been a definitive figure of funds stolen by the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak, but they are estimated to contain millions and even billions of dollars. Egypt has frozen the local assets of several former ministers and business tycoons close to the former regime, including Mubarak. Some of the high-profile Egyptian personalities wanted by Interpol are former Minister of Industry Rachid Rachid and fugitive businessman Hussein Salem.

The second meeting of AFAR was held in Morocco in October 2013, and it sought to identify the challenges in the recovery of stolen assets and a basis for future domestic and international progress on the issue, according to a statement by the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), a key partner of AFAR.

AFAR 2014, which will also be co-chaired by Tunisia, will focus on using “innovative asset recovery tools” and “lifting the corporate veil,” and include topics like case consultations and integrating NGOs in the process, StAr said in an October statement.

The third meeting of AFAR will also address many of the practical issues and challenges in maintaining the political will to recover the proceeds of corruption from Arab countries in transition.

Over 200 representatives from the Arab world, international financial centers and senior government ministers from the U.S., U.K., South Africa and elsewhere will attend the forum, according to StAR.

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