Egypt requests freeze on Mubarak assets abroad

Cairo, Feb 21 (AFP) Egypt''s prosecutor general todayrequested a freeze on the foreign assets of Hosni Mubarak andhis family, 10 days after the longtime president resigned inthe face of a popular uprising.

Abdel Magid Mahmud tasked Foreign Minister Ahmed AbulGheit with contacting foreign countries to seek a freeze onassets held by Mubarak, his wife Suzanne, sons Alaa and Gamaland their wives Heidi Rashekh and Khadiga al-Gammal, hisoffice said.

Mubarak is widely thought to have grown wealthy duringhis three decades in power, although an unidentified legaladviser was quoted by the state-run MENA news agency yesterdayas saying that talk of a multi-billion-dollar fortune wasnothing but "a groundless rumour".

Switzerland, which froze Mubarak''s assets within hoursof his resignation on February 11, said yesterday that theformer president had "tens of millions of francs" in Swissfinancial institutions.

"We do not yet know if these funds are legitimate ornot," said Swiss foreign ministry Stefan von Below, addingthat if they had been illegally obtained, "competent judicialbodies will decide who are the entitled parties".

Twelve people have had their assets pre-emptivelyfrozen by Switzerland, including Mubarak''s immediate familymembers as well as four of his government ministers.

One Swiss franc is worth about one US dollar or 77euro cents.

The fate of Mubarak''s assets in the European Union waslikely to come up on Tuesday when EU foreign policy chiefCatherine Ashton visits Cairo, after ambassadors from the 27EU member states agreed in principle in Brussels on Friday tofreeze the assets of members of his inner circle.

Mubarak, 82, withdrew to his heavily-guarded villa inthe Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh on the day that hestepped down. He has not been publicly seen since, amidspeculation about his health. (AFP)

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