Egypt panel seeks to recover Mubarak assets abroad

CAIRO (Reuters) – A committee set up by Egypt’s military rulers will travel to Europe aiming to recover frozen assets belonging to deposed President Hosni Mubarak and other leading officials, the state news agency said on Thursday.

European Union governments agreed on March 21 to freeze the assets of Mubarak and 18 associates. Switzerland, one of the countries the Egyptian delegation will visit, froze assets that could belong to Mubarak on February 11, the day he stepped down.

Essam el-Gawahri, a senior justice ministry official heading the committee, said it would “make every effort to restore those assets to the country according to the U.N. Convention against Corruption,” the state news agency MENA reported.

The mission will begin in the next few days.

Activists who mobilized to topple Mubarak have been demanding more aggressive measures to recover his assets, which Egyptians widely believe run into billions of dollars.

The panel will also take steps to uncover secret overseas bank accounts held by Mubarak and senior aides, Gawahri said.

Gawahri, head of an official body in charge of uncovering ill-gotten gains, said he had also banned three senior officials from leaving Egypt after investigations showed they had amassed large amounts of wealth.

The decision applies to Fathi Sorour, the former speaker of the lower house of parliament, Safwat el-Sherif, a senior member of the ruling party and head of the upper house of parliament, and Zakaria Azmi, one of Mubarak’s senior aides. It also applies to their wives, the state news agency reported.

Egypt’s public prosecutor had ordered auditing and supervisory authorities to investigate claims made against the three former politicians.

The three have not been charged and were not available for comment.

(Reporting by Sarah Mikhail; Editing by Tom Perry and Mark Heinrich)

Egypt panel seeks to recover Mubarak assets abroad