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Egyptian Analyst: Mubarak Assets Key Test for Interim Government

Thousands of Egyptians gather to pray and celebrate the fall of the Mubarak regime, and to maintain pressure on the current military rulers, in Cairo's Tahrir Square, February 18, 2011

An Egyptian scholar said a majority of people in the country are cautiously optimistic about the interim government’s efforts to freeze foreign assets held by former President Hosni Mubarak and his family, reputedly a fortune worth billions of dollars.

Said Sadek, professor of political sociology at the American University of Cairo, contends that the administration has not moved fast enough to confiscate the assets.

“There is cautious optimism. Why? Because the move is very slow and too late. We have heard a lot of reports about many funds flying out of the country in the last two to three weeks and nothing happened. In addition, we have seen that Switzerland moved so fast. As soon as (Mr.) Mubarak resigned, they moved to freeze his bank account, as here there was hesitation,” said Sadek.

“There were reports that an agreement was reached between the Supreme Council of the Armed forces and (Mr.) Mubarak that they would not pursue him legally or pursue his accounts; and so, we are not sure if this is a real sign of change or just for domestic consumption, but nothing special would come out of it.”

This came after the nation’s top prosecutor general, Abdel Magid Mahmud, called on Egypt's Foreign Ministry Monday to ask all other nations to suspend access to any assets or accounts held by Mr. Mubarak.

The freeze order also applies to the ex-president's wife, Suzanne, and their two sons and daughters-in-law.

Sadek said there are concerns that the current administration is working with the former president to thwart efforts to confiscate assets belonging to Mr. Mubarak and his family.

“The Minister for Foreign Affairs had sent letters to many countries to freeze the assets and deposits of some top officials, but he did not include in that list President Mubarak or his family, and that little bit proves that there was a sort of tacit agreement between the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and (Mr.) Mubarak not to pursue this issue,” said Sadek.

“What we might be hearing would be media balloons and ways to distract people, but not a serious legal case.”

Switzerland already has frozen Mr. Mubarak's bank accounts and there have been reports from other world centers about extensive property holdings controlled by the Mubarak family.

Published reports estimating the size of the ousted leader's fortune have ranged from $1 billion to $70 billion, but Mr. Mubarak's attorneys have ridiculed all such accounts as wildly untrue.

Since he stepped down 10 days ago at the climax of Egypt's popular uprising, Mr. Mubarak is believed to have been at his estate in the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh.