Geneva meeting pledges $5M to help return smuggled money
Photo courtesy of Swiss Foreign Ministry website
By SAMAR SAMIR

CAIRO:  The third meeting of the Arab Forum on Asset Recovery (AFAR III) in Geneva co-chaired by Switzerland, Egypt and Tunisia announced it would allocate $5 million for programs to facilitate the return of smuggled monies Monday.

An estimated $650 million was smuggled out of Egypt during the former President Hosni Mubarak’s era to Switzerland, Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesperson Pierre-Alain Eltschinger told The Cairo Post Monday via email.

“We have no indications that additional assets from the former Egyptian regime are placed in Switzerland,” he added.

Minister of Justice Mahfouz Saber and Attorney General Hisham Barakat represented Egypt in the Forum, which began as an initiative of the United States presidency of the G-8 in 2012. The Forum, which was attended by 250 specialists from 40 countries, was held in cooperation with the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR) of the World Bank Group and UNODC.

Egypt’s Deputy Minister of Justice for Illicit Gains Affairs Youssef Othman, a member of the Egyptian delegation, told the “Momken” (Possible) T.V. talk show on the CBC channel that the total amount of money smuggled out of Egypt abroad to five countries could reach $1.5 billion.

The Federation of Switzerland has announced that the total amount of money smuggled to Arab countries reached $1.8 billion, according the Foreign Ministry website.

“Countries should put in place a strategy on political and operational levels and an adequate institutional set-up for interagency coordination as well as a sustained criminal investigation,” the closing statement of the forum read.

“Jurisdictions should support one another’s proceedings by spontaneously providing information, promptly processing and responding to valid requests for MLA (International Mutual Legal Assistance in Switzerland) and by participating in legal proceedings underway in one another’s jurisdiction. They should determine whether to maintain parallel investigations and consider joint investigations,” the participant countries declared.

Attorney General Barakat told The Cairo Post and Youm7 Tuesday that Egypt will get a portion of the $5 million, adding that such amount of money could be increased.

The Swiss government drafted in December 2013 a bill that regulates its legal procedures for freezing and returning money; the bill will be discussed in the 2015 Parliament, according to a press statement from the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs Monday.

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