CAIRO: The Giza Criminal Court upheld on Thursday a decision taken by the Illicit Gains Authority (IGA) to freeze all assets belonging to ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his family.
The decision includes assets belonging to Mubarak’s wife, sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren, in addition to Mubarak’s secretary Gamal Abdel-Aziz and businessman Hussein Salem’s families.
The court announced that IGA investigations proved that the Mubaraks have amassed fortunes during the rule of their father.
According to MENA news agency, Counselor Assem El-Gohari, assistant justice minister for and head of the IGA, announced that the wealth of both Mubarak’s sons Alaa and Gamal in Swiss banks alone amounted to $340 million, approximately LE 2 billion.
According to Engy Haddad, the cofounder of Shaifenkom.com and Egyptians Against Corruption movement, the court order comes as an official step in line with the UN Convention against Corruption that Egypt signed in 2004.
“According to this convention, countries can only freeze the assets of citizens through an independent judiciary order,” said Haddad who further explained that this hasn’t been the case since February 2011.
Following Mubarak’s ouster on Feb. 11, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued an order to all its embassies around the world to request governments freeze Mubarak’s assets.
“But this wasn’t the right step, so the prosecutor general issued a diplomatic request to the countries to freeze the assets. However they did not abide by it, because, according to the convention, only an independent judiciary verdict can oblige them to freeze any assets,” she said.
According to Haddad, not all countries will abide by the court’s rulings.
“They could argue that our judiciary system is not independent as the Minister of Justice is the head of the Supreme Judiciary Council,” she explained.
According to Haddad, the most appropriate steps to ensure that all countries abide by the convention is to form an independent judiciary committee to issue the verdict.
“It could take a number of years for the countries to freeze their assets, as the convention allows this,” she added.
The anti-corruption legislation was signed by Mubarak in 2004, and was passed by parliament in 2005.
However, Haddad filed a lawsuit in 2005 against Mubarak, then-prime minister Ahmed Nazif and parliament speaker Fathi Sorour for not officially announcing the convention in state media. Haddad won the lawsuit in 2006.
The convention was ratified in Egypt in 2007, but the government failed to comply with its articles in several key areas, she noted.
According to Haddad, some countries like Switzerland and France froze the assets without referring to this convention because their internal laws forbid amassed fortunes from circulating in their economy.