Mubarak Family Riches Attract New Focus
By NEIL MacFARQUHAR, DAVID ROHDE and ROSTON ARAM
During President Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30-year rule, he and his family were not flamboyant with their wealth, particularly by the standards of other leaders in the
Now with Hosni Mubarak out of power, there are growing calls for an accounting to begin.
Within hours of Mr. Mubarak’s resignation on Friday, Swiss officials ordered all banks in
Tracing the money is likely to be difficult because business in
“Now we open all the files,” said George Ishak, head of the National Association for Change, an opposition umbrella group. “We will research everything, all of them
Estimates of the Mubaraks’ fortune vary wildly, including a widespread rumor that they are worth as much as $70 billion.
Gamal Mubarak, who was being groomed to be the next president, and his older brother Ala’a, were considered major figures in the business elite.
Gamal Mubarak’s private equity business came through his ties to EFG-Hermes, the largest investment bank in
The connection to EFG-Hermes reaches back to the mid-1990s. After Gamal Mubarak left Bank of
Bullion owns 35 percent of the private equity operation, which has $919 million under management, according to the chief executive of EFG-Hermes, Hassan Heikal. The equity fund invests in oil and gas, steel, cement, food and cattle.
Mr. Heikal said that other than the private equity investment, Gamal Mubarak had no other ties “directly, indirectly, offshore or through family” to the bank. He said the fund constituted only 7 percent of the bank’s business. Questioned about the size of Gamal’s initial investment in the 1990s, Mr. Heikal declined to elaborate.
A spokeswoman for EFG-Hermes said in a statement that the bank “has received no special privileges or consideration from the Egyptian government and has always operated under legal and transparent best-practices.” Calls to Medinvest’s office in
For years, opposition groups have contended that since
“The corruption of the Mubarak family was not stealing from the budget, it was transforming political capital into private capital,” said Samer Soliman, a professor of political economy at American University in Cairo.
Occasionally, members of the ruling elite who fell out of favor were suddenly convicted of financial corruption charges, but generally, the inner workings of the system have remained hidden.
One businessman who won government approval for various major development projects is Magdi Rasekh, Ala’a Mubarak’s father-in-law. Mr. Rasekh is chairman of the board of Sixth of October Development & Investment Company, which built one of a series of sprawling new developments in the desert outside
As attention turns to tracking the Mubaraks’ purported wealth, rumors of vast real estate holdings by the family have swirled. But the only property outside of
But determining the precise ownership of the house shows why investigating the family’s wealth is complicated. A woman answering the front door of the house said the Mubaraks had sold it, but property agents said there was no record of a sale, and neighbors said they had seen Gamal Mubarak and his family entering it several times recently.
According to British records, the home is owned by a company called Ocral Enterprises of
Though Swiss banks have begun the search for Mubarak family assets, experts said any money would be returned to
As the protest intensified last week, government prosecutors froze the assets of five government ministers and imposed a travel ban on them. The move appeared to be an effort by Mr. Mubarak to distance himself from the wealthy businessmen who had become the focus of public ire over corruption. It is unclear whether the military, which now runs the government and has vast business holdings itself, will allow a full inquiry into the Mubarak family’s wealth.
Perhaps the most difficult question to answer is the level of corruption involving Hosni Mubarak himself. Former American diplomats said he appeared to live relatively simply, particularly by the standards of rulers in the region. His main residence outside
Mr. Mubarak’s villa is in a compound developed by Hussein Salem, an Egyptian businessman and close friend of the former president. Mr. Salem pleaded guilty in 1983 to overcharging the Pentagon $8 million for shipping military equipment to
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