By Marwa Al-A’asar
CAIRO: The whereabouts and fortune of ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his family have been subject to speculation since he stepped down on Feb. 11.
On Wednesday, state-owned Al-Akhbar newspaper reported that Mubarak is being treated for pancreatic and colon cancer in Saudi Arabia’s Tabouk city, and is being housed at a military base along with his wife, Suzanne Sabet, and two sons, Alaa and Gamal.
The newspaper cited “well-informed sources” as saying that Mubarak undergoes chemotherapy sessions once every five days.
However, an official source at the Supreme Council of the Armed forces, Egypt’s current rulers, had earlier denied that Mubarak was in Tabouk, while other sources asserted he is still in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.
Other unconfirmed reports said that Mubarak’s wife, Suzanne Sabet, and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, attempted to flee the country Sunday through Sharm El-Sheikh airport but were stopped by authorities.
On Monday, Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud seized all the local funds of Mubarak and his wife and two sons as well as their wives and minor children, as well as banning them from travel.
A Cairo criminal court will look into the case on March 5.
The prosecutor had tasked Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit with contacting foreign countries to freeze Mubaraks’ assets abroad.
A judicial official said at the time that the prosecutor’s office had received several complaints regarding Mubarak’s wealth being outside the country, “which necessitates an investigation.”
Two days later, Mahmoud officially called on all banks in Egypt to notify him of any information about the accounts of the Mubaraks.
Mohamed Anwar Esmat El-Sadat, leader of the un-registered Reform and Development Party, told Daily News Egypt that he acquired information on funds worth about $7 billion owned by Gamal Mubarak in Geneva, Cyprus and London.
“After the January 25 Revolution broke out, I asked a specialized legal office in London to track the fortunes of Gamal and his family abroad,” El-Sadat, also a lawyer, said.
Earlier last week, El-Sadat flew to London where he received a file from the office with the information available so far on this issue.
“I submitted the file to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces asking them to take the necessary measures against him and decide which entity should deal with the case,” El-Sadat explained.
“I also called on detaining Gamal and two of his friends currently in Geneva and one in London pending investigation,” he added.
Unlike other Arab leaders, particularly those in the oil-rich Gulf nations, Mubarak was far from being ostentatious. Whatever wealth he and his family may have had was rarely — if ever — flaunted.
The most prominent symbol of their presumed fortune that has surfaced was a townhouse in London’s exclusive Knightsbridge district, which is listed under Gamal Mubarak’s name and where he was said to have lived while working as an investment banker in the early 1990s.
Alaa Mubarak’s wealth has been the subject of much speculation from well before the political rise of his younger brother. There are allegations that he used the family name to muscle in on profitable enterprises, taking a share of profits without contributing to the funds invested or work done.
Monday’s issue of the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper splashed on its front page a complaint filed to the Prosecutor General by a former lawmaker that detailed the funds held by the Mubaraks in Egypt.
The complaint only mentioned Mubarak when it alleged that he gave his wife Suzanne control of the funds available to Alexandria Bibliotheca.
The complaint further said Alaa and Gamal Mubarak had tens of millions of pounds and dollars in “secret” accounts at the National Bank of Egypt. It referred to deposits of $147 million for Mubarak’s wife and $100 million each for his sons.
Switzerland was the first foreign country to say it was moving to identify and freeze assets of Mubarak and his family.
Last week, the European Union said it was considering a request from Egypt to freeze the assets of Mubarak’s top aides.
On his part, the legal advisor of Mubarak’s family denied that these accounts were true, saying that they have not been investigated.
Daily independent Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported Wednesday that the Mubarak family had sent out a statement about “how [they] have been recently exposed to several attempts to distort their reputation as well as the history of the former president and … his integrity.”
The statement further denied reports on Mubarak’s wife having four bank accounts.
“These accounts were allocated for donations … and what concerns her … is the right to [manage them] being [the First Lady]. The presidency has been in charge of the accounts and how the money is spent,” the advisor said.
As for the Alexandria Bibliotheca accounts, the president, the statement said, was the only person who had the right to [use them] in his capacity.
The presidency, the statement added, has been in charge of managing these accounts.
Once the president stepped down, the advisor said, these accounts were frozen. “The Central Bank of Egypt was informed of that in accordance with regulations,” the statement said.
Regarding the mentioned several accounts in the names of Mubarak’s sons, the family’s legal advisor claimed that they are “false” and “have nothing to do with the truth.”
“The available sums are far less than what was mentioned. And the source and location of the rest of the available money [can be] identified,” the statement said.
The family called on journalists and newspapers to double check the accuracy of the source of information they receive. –Additional reporting by agencies.