In an attempt to pressure the Swiss government into returning frozen assets belonging to former president Hosni Mubarak, the Prosecutor General Talaat Abdallah posted a poll on his Facebook page asking Egyptians if they felt Switzerland should comply with requests to repatriate the funds.
The poll consisted of three answers to the question of whether or not Egyptians agree to the drafting of a law allowing for the return of such assets to Egypt: ‘Yes’, ‘No’, and ‘I don’t know’. Over 13,000 participants, an overwhelming majority, voted ‘Yes.’
In a later statement Abdallah explained the aim of the poll was to put pressure on the Swiss government in speeding up the drafting process of the new law, known as the Mubarak Law, which was initially put forward by Switzerland last week.
Switzerland holds an estimated 700 million Swiss francs, nearly $770m, of Mubarak’s assets. One of the conditions placed on the recovery of the funds is the cessation of violence and a recovery of stability.
Switzerland was the first country in the world to freeze Mubarak’s assets, doing so within a few hours of his announcement to step down on 11 February 2011. They were also the first country to do the same for Libya and Tunisia in 2011. Switzerland has been a haven for money laundering for many years, due largely to the fact that strict privacy laws in the Swiss banking sector make it difficult for investigators to trace money to these accounts. Nevertheless Switzerland has waged a campaign against international economic crime and boasts the highest amount of expatriated funds, over 1.8bn Swiss francs, since the campaign began in 2001.
Last month the Swiss ambassador Dominik Furgler and Egypt’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Ashraf El-Sayed El-Araby signed an agreement which would allow for 30m Swiss francs in aid to be delivered to Egypt in allotted blocks until 2016.
With Egypt’s economy in freefall, much of the promised aid from Europe, the US and Islamic banks has yet to be delivered. Investors have repeatedly said they are awaiting political stability in Egypt before any aid deliveries or investments can be made, further complicating Egypt’s economic situation.