Egyptian military asks for freeze of assets of Mubarak aides

Cairo, Feb 15 (PTI) Days after the toppling of theregime, the Egyptian military led government has asked US andEuropean Union to freeze the assets of top henchmen of oustedHosni Mubarak, but has remained mum on the bounty of thedeposed president.

While the Obama administration has conveyed to Cairothat it is examining the request, EU ministers are meeting inBrussels to take a decision on the issue.

US State Department officials said that theadministration had received request to freeze assets held bysome senior officials in Mubarak''s regime, but have notreceived any request to freeze assets of the ousted president.

Egyptian as well as US officials refused to disclosedthe identity of the individuals whose assets were being askedto be frozen and whether they included the sons of formerEgyptian strongman.

Media reports have put the worth of Mubarak, who ruledEgypt with an iron hand for last 30 years, as anything betweenUSD 60-70 billion, but banking experts say a more realisticestimate would be anything upto USD 5 billion.

Officials here quoted by the state media said asimilar request had been sent to European Union''s big three -France, UK and Germany for freezing the assets of Mubarak''stop aides.

Britain''s Finance Minister George Osborne has put up aproposal before the EU that all 27-member states should stripthe assets of closest associates of Mubarak.

Without naming anybody, al-Arabiya reported thatriches accumulated by 6-7 Egyptians were being targeted, butnot Mubarak himself.

In its first step, the new Egyptian authorities haveimposed a travel bar on all former top officials of theMubarak regime. The officials can only travel abroad afterclearance by military or public prosecutor.

Switzerland, known to be a tax haven, has alreadyordered a freeze of any assets belonging to Mubarak and hisentourage. The Swiss announced the ban within hours of thedownfall of Mubarak.

EU is already considering a freeze of assets of thedeposed Tunisian President Zine al Abidine Ben Ali, andBritish Foreign Secretary William Hague has proposed a similaraction against Mubarak.

The move to freeze accounts of Mubarak''s aides comesas Arab media reports said that former Egyptian strongman hadmoved his family assets from European banks to institutions inGulf region.

There are also reports that Mubarak who is officiallystated to be still in Egypt, in the resort town ofSharam-al-Sheikh may seek asylum in the Emirates.

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