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Swiss start to disclose Mubarak assets

Egypt Focus: Western governments are clamping down on the assets of Hosni Mubarak and his family just four days after he stepped down from power.

(FILES) -- A file picture dated October 13, 2009 shows Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak giving a statement for the press with his Hungarian counterpart Laszlo Solyom (not pictured) in Budapest after their official talks. Mubarak said in a televised speech on February 10, 2011 that he would hand over power to his deputy and former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK

 *** Local Caption *** 259044-01-08.jpg
(FILES) -- A file picture dated October 13, 2009 shows Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak giving a statement for the press with his Hungarian counterpart Laszlo Solyom (not pictured) in Budapest after their official talks. Mubarak said in a televised speech on February 10, 2011 that he would hand over power to his deputy and former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK *** Local Caption *** 259044-01-08.jpg

Banks in Switzerland are disclosing the assets of the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his "associates", says the Swiss foreign ministry.

Last week, the government said it had frozen "any potential assets" belonging to Mr Mubarak, as well as 10 members of his family and other people. The move followed Switzerland's decision to freeze the assets of Tunisia's ex-president Zine al Abidine Ben Ali and his entourage after he was forced out of power last month.

A spokesman for the Swiss foreign ministry said yesterday Swiss banks were beginning to reveal the extent of Mr Mubarak's holdings and his entourage for the first time, although he would not give a figure.

"That's all I can say about the subject," the spokesman told Bloomberg.

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Billions of dollars are believed to have been amassed by the Mubarak family and businessmen connected to them during the 30 years that Mr Mubarak ruled Egypt, although no official accounts of their wealth exist. Mr Mubarak reportedly earned just over US$800 (Dh2,938) a month as president.

EFG-Hermes, Egypt's largest investment bank, said on Monday Mr Mubarak's son, Gamal, has owned 18 per cent of EFG-Hermes Private Equity since 1997. The fund has $919 million under management. Few other assets have been publicly identified.

The aggressive measures from the Swiss government are part of a broader attempt to improve the image of the country's famously secretive banking system.

Micheline Calmy-Rey, the Swiss president, told the Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag Switzerland had to ensure it was not a haven for "dirty money".

"It cannot be that right at our door some people embezzle state funds and put them into their own pocket," she said.

European powers are also weighing decisions to freeze the assets of Mr Mubarak and his family, but are waiting for an official request to be made from Egypt, the EU said.

"We are in contact with the Egyptian authorities. We will take appropriate measures if this issue comes up, when necessary," said Catherine Ashton, the vice president of the European Commission, according to reports.

Egypt had also requested the US, France, Germany and the UK to freeze the assets of several former Egyptian politicians, whose identities have not yet been revealed.

EU finance ministers were expected to discuss the requests from Egypt to freeze assets yesterday, but gave signs they were willing to co-operate.

A spokesman for David Cameron, the British prime minister, said any action should come as part of an international arrangement, according to reports.

"As I understand the situation on asset freezing, there has to be some international effort … and a request has to be made" by the Egyptian authorities, a spokesman for Mr Cameron said.

Meanwhile, Egypt's stock exchange plans to open on Sunday and may cancel the January 27 trading session, the day the benchmark index slumped 11 per cent, said Hisham Turk, a spokesman for the bourse.

* with agencies

business@thenational.ae