Swiss to unfreeze $430M as Egypt money laundering probe ends
GENEVA (AP) — Swiss prosecutors will not file any charges after concluding a decade-long investigation into alleged money laundering and organized crime linked to late former President Hosni Mubarak’s circles in Egypt, and will release some 400 million Swiss francs ($430 million) frozen in Swiss banks.
The office of the Swiss attorney general said Wednesday that information received as part of cooperation with Egyptian authorities wasn’t sufficient to back up the claims that emerged in the wake of Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 that felled Mubarak’s three-decade rule.
Mubarak’s sons, Alaa and Gamal, hailed the decision as a full exoneration.
A Swiss investigation into claims that banks in Switzerland were used to squirrel away ill-gotten funds had originally targeted 14 people, including Mubarak’s two sons, as well as dozens of other individuals and entities that had assets totaling some 600 million francs frozen.
More than 210 million francs were already released in an earlier phase of the case, which also could not substantiate the allegations, and Wednesday’s announcement means about 400 million more will be “released and returned to their beneficial owners,” the attorney-general’s office said.
The final part of the Swiss investigation centered on five people, it said, without identifying them.
According to a statement sent to The Associated Press by Swiss law firm Ming Halperin Burger Inaudi, which represents the family, Gamal Mubarak said the decision “validates the position we have held all along” following more than a decade of “intrusive investigations, sanctions and mutual legal assistance proceedings.”
“The decision marks an important step in our efforts to assert our rights and prove our innocence from the flagrantly false allegations leveled against us over the past 11 years,” he said.
The law firm, in a statement, also said the attorney-general’s office had awarded an indemnity to the brothers of 270,000 francs to refund their legal costs, and said much of the frozen funds that will be released “derive from returns on investments in financial instruments held over a long period on their bank accounts.”
The attorney-general’s office declined to confirm those allegations from the law firm, saying in an email it would not comment further on the case because the decision hasn’t taken effect yet.
Swiss prosecutors say they didn’t receive a response to a request for information from “commissions” created in Egypt to analyze financial transfers connected to people under investigation in Egypt — notably the Mubarak family, the office said. Mubarak died in 2020, aged 91.
“As a result, in the absence of evidence relating to potential offenses committed in particular in Egypt, it is not possible to show that the funds located in Switzerland could be of illegal origin,” it said. “The suspicion of money laundering cannot therefore be substantiated based on the information available.”
Swiss banks, reputed for their discretion, have been a favored repository over the years for many wealthy foreigners — including Western industrial tycoons, Russian oligarchs, and autocrats and other leaders and their families and cronies in places as diverse as Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Swiss authorities have touted a recent crackdown against money laundering through Swiss banks, but advocacy groups and watchdogs say the effort has not succeeded in completely ending such activities.
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