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Will Mubarak get to keep the ill-gotten billions?

By Farrukh Saleem<

/em>

ISLAMABAD: Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak made

an average of $100 million every month for the past 30 years for ‘serving’ his country. Some 40 percent of Egypt’s 80 million make $2 a day or less while their president raked in $4 million a day for the past 360 months.

The ex-First Family, according to CNN’s Tom Foreman, now has assets valued at over $40 billion. Carlos Slim, CEO of Telemex and the richest on the planet, is worth $54 billion. Bill Gates, with assets worth $53 billion, is at number two. Egyptian deposits in Switzerland at the end of 2009, according to Swiss National Bank, totaled $3.7 billion. On February 12, the Swiss government announced the freezing of all assets tied to the fallen president and his

family.

The ex-First Family is known to own a 5-story mansion in Knightsbridge, posh estates outside London and New York plus trophy assets in Los Angeles, Paris and Dubai plus castles in Beverly Hills, Washington and New York with bank accounts in Britain, US, France and other Western countries. It took Nigeria 5 years to get $700 million back from Switzerland out of accounts connected to ex-President Sani Abacha.

The Philippines spent 18 years in litigation and finally got $684 million back from accounts connected to Ferdinand Marco. It took Mexico 12 years to get $74 million of embezzled funds back (the Raual Salinas case). Argentina and Mali have also recovered stolen millions back. In 2007, the US, Switzerland and Kazakhstan signed a deal under which $84 million was repatriated back to Kazakhstan (ex-president Nazarbayev case).

According to UBS AG, the world’s 2nd largest manager of private wealth, Swiss banks are holding illicit Indian-origin assets worth $1.4 trillion followed by Russia $470 billion, the UK $390 billion, Ukraine $100 billion and China $96 billion.

On February 1, the Restitution of Illicit Assets Act, passed by the Swiss Parliament, went into force. The law “allows for the seizures of the assets of persons who have been accused of obtaining such assets in other countries (including state coffers) through unlawful means.” Under the Act, the burden of proof shifts from the country that has been victimized to former dictators who would have to prove that their frozen assets were legally earned.

The Egyptian genie is out of the bottle but is the virus ready to spread? At bmaker.ag, the online gambling website, you can bet $100 and win $6,000, $4,000 or $120 if there is an uprising in Saudi Arabia, Syria or Yemen, respectively. Odds of an uprising, at bmaker.ag, are the highest for Yemen and the lowest for Saudi Arabia.

It took less than half a million Egyptians a total of 18 days to bring down a 30-year old, iron fisted, corrupt dictatorship. But now comes the real test. Is Egypt on its way to truly democratic governance and a transparent economy? Are Egypt’s new rulers up to cleaning out old, rotten, crooked stables or would they protect Mubarak’s ill-gotten billions? Time shall tell. The Egyptians know better than anyone else that if the ‘top man be corrupt, the world will be corrupt’.


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