Justice minister negotiates with 15 businessmen to return smuggled funds

Minister of Justice Ahmed Al-Zind said negotiations were ongoing with 15 of those charged with making illicit profit to pay back funds in return for dropping charges against them, state news agency MENA reported.

“While no compromises will be made for Egypt’s rights during negotiations, no injustice will befall investors,” Al-Zind said in his speech at the Egyptian Canadian council assembly where he reviewed the ministry’s progress in advancing the judiciary system.

The defendants include former president Hosni Mubarak’s family, businessman Hussein Salem, former trade minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid, among several other Mubarak regime figures. The funds smuggled are estimated to be around $132bn in private banks in Switzerland and the UK.

From 25 January 2011 until June 2015, Egypt formed eight different judicial committees under consecutive regimes in a bid to have smuggled funds returned but all have failed.

The two main reasons behind the failure were the absence of a judicial verdict against the accused to prove the money was smuggled and foreign governments expressing scepticism that the Egyptian government would use the funds for development purposes.

A presidential decree by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi made it possible to reconcile with defendants. However at the time, none of the defendants had offered to return money in the case of acquittal. Salem later announced his intention to donate 75% of his wealth to Egypt and in return be acquitted.

Mubarak and his two sons Gamal and Alaa were released on bail while investigations continue into their corruption trial regarding presidential mansions. The Cairo Criminal Court also dropped all charges in November 2014 against Hosni Mubarak of killing protestors during the 25 January Revolution.

Defence lawyer Farid Al-Deeb, who represents Mubarak’s sons, used the political situation in 2013 following overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood regime in favour of his case, claiming that it was “unsafe for them to keep their funds inside Egypt amid such upheaval”.

Local human rights group Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) issued a report on this issue in March 2013, recommending that the Egyptian government start presenting concrete evidence to foreign governments that they would use the returned money for developmental purposes.

They also recommended that the committee created for this purpose should be independent and not follow the executive branch since previous changes in regime and governments had significantly delayed the task.

Source: Daily News Egypt

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