Switzerland to return all frozen assets if proven illegal, says delegation

4 Min Read

CAIRO: Switzerland will return 100 percent of assets obtained by members of the former regime if proven that they were acquired illegally, said a Swiss delegation working with the Egyptian government on the issue.

The Swiss government announced earlier that it had frozen 410 million Swiss Francs (over LE 2.7 billion) in assets held by ousted President Hosni Mubarak and 14 Egyptian officials from the former regime.

“These aren’t all Mubarak assets,” Ambassador of Switzerland, Dominik Furgler said in a press conference on Wednesday. “These are assets linked to Mubarak and (other officials from the former regime).”

Furgler said he couldn’t attribute a specific amount of the frozen assets to Mubarak or any other official, because the allegations were being investigated

“We are not in a position to relate specific names to specific assets as the investigation is still going on,” he said.

Retrieving the assets depended on how swiftly Egyptian authorities could prove their illegal origin, he added.

The Swiss delegation consists of four experts and officials: Furgler; head of Mutual Assistance Unit in Federal Office of Justice, Pascal Gossin; head of International law section in Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Dieter Cavalleri; and Executive Director of Basel Institute on Governance, Daniel Thelesklaf.

The delegation would support Egyptian authorities with information including witnesses, bank accounts and statements that would assist in Egyptian investigations, according to the ambassador.

“Switzerland has no interest whatsoever in keeping illegally acquired assets,” he stressed. “This is why we immediately froze the money.”

Switzerland is a state that respects and follows the law and retrieving the assets had to be done according to the law, he added.

According to a statement issued by the delegation during the conference, the Swiss government is entitled to freeze assets only in exceptional situations, like the political upheaval that happened in Egypt.

Furgler said that the Swiss government froze the assets in order to preserve them and prevent them from being transferred elsewhere. The Swiss government wanted to give Egyptian authorities the opportunity to investigate the legitimacy of these assets’ origins, he added.

Furgler said that the assets would be frozen for three years, according to the Swiss constitution. The duration could be extended longer in Egypt’s circumstances, stressing that the assets weren’t confiscated and would remain preserved.

He also denied that Swiss banks had secret accounts.

“There are no secret accounts in Swiss banks, no matter how many times they’re mentioned in James Bond movies,” Fulgler said.

He added that key officials in Swiss Banks must know the identity of the beneficial owner of a bank account.

“If a judge orders the bank to release [the details] of a specific account, the bank must comply,” the ambassador said.

Gossin said that a suspect’s death or fleeing his or her country wouldn’t prevent the process of investigations or retrieving illegal assets.

The Swiss delegation met with the Egyptian officials responsible for retrieving the illegal funds abroad on Tuesday to discuss the methods that would allow Egypt to retrieve the frozen assets from Switzerland.

Furgler said that they discussed the procedures required to retrieve the assets and the methods of cooperation between the two sides.

Share This Article
Leave a comment