Mubarak, wife held in graft probe ‘Illegal wealth’

CAIRO, May 13, (Agencies): Egypt’s anti-graft agency said on Friday it had ordered former president Hosni Mubarak and his wife detained as part of a probe into charges they used their influence to amass wealth unlawfully.
Investigators interrogated Mubarak, who has denied wrongdoing, for more than three hours on Thursday evening in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, and questioned his wife Suzanne on Friday, the state news agency MENA reported.
It was the first detention order for the ousted president’s wife, although the public prosecutor had already ordered Mubarak detained on April 13 as part of a separate investigation into charges of abuse of public funds and the killing of protesters.
Some media reports have suggested the Mubarak family’s wealth may total billions of dollars, a major rallying point for anti-government protests in a country where around 40 percent of the population lives on less than $2 per day.
“I expected it, yet it still feels good to hear it,” Mohamed Ahmed, a 23-year-old banker, told Reuters in Cairo after hearing about the order.
Mass demonstrations forced Mubarak to step down on Feb 11, and later protests put pressure on the country’s interim military rulers to allow investigations into the family’s wealth.
Some Egyptians have been unhappy about the treatment of Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for three decades. Dozens of demonstrators gathered at a major Cairo mosque on Friday saying the deposed ruler should not be put on trial, MENA reported.
The anti-graft agency, known as the Illicit Gains Authority, ordered that Mubarak’s wife be detained for 15 days. Security and judicial sources said she would be transferred to a Cairo prison.
The 83-year-old former president has been staying at a hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh since he suffered health problems under initial questioning.
The public prosecutor last month ordered that Mubarak be transferred to a Cairo prison hospital but said it would take at least a month to make the necessary preparations.
Mubarak was questioned about his ownership of a Sharm el-Sheikh villa estimated to be worth more than 36 million Egyptian pounds ($6.1 million) and about his alleged personal use of a bank account owned by the Library of Alexandria, MENA said. The account contains $145 million, it said.
Mubarak’s wife was questioned about a Cairo villa and 20 million Egyptian pounds in an unspecified bank account, it added.
“During its investigation, the agency confronted Mubarak with reports from comptrollers regarding unlawful gains not commensurate with his legitimate income during his career,” MENA said, citing Assem el-Gohari, a senior justice ministry official.
Aides insist the Mubaraks have done nothing wrong.
The former president and his wife also signed documents in Arabic, English and French agreeing to reveal information about their domestic and foreign bank accounts.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry told its embassies in the Arab world and Western countries on Feb 22 to freeze the assets of the toppled leader and his family.
Switzerland’s Foreign Ministry said earlier this month the country had found 410 million Swiss francs ($462.5 million) traced to Mubarak.
Mubarak, his wife, two sons Alaa and Gamal and their wives were banned from travel and their assets ordered frozen by general prosecutor Abdel Magid Mahmud shortly after the former strongman was overthrown in February.
The two sons, along with dozens of officials and businessmen associated with the former regime, are being detained in Cairo’s notorious Tora prison which housed political dissidents during the Mubarak era.
Alaa and Gamal had been questioned on their ties “with a company in Cyprus and one of the British Isles managing investment funds of some businessmen,” a spokesman at the public prosecutor’s office said.
Both men are also accused of forcing businessmen to give them a cut in local partnerships with foreign companies.

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