The Swiss attorney general will continue investigations into charges of money laundering leveled against ousted President Hosni Mubarak, and seized assets will remain frozen, a statement by the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) said Monday.
The OAG has however “partially abandoned” its investigation into charges of participating and supporting a criminal organization leveled against Mubarak, according to the statement.
Mubarak’s assets in Switzerland have been frozen since he stepped down in February 2011 following the January 25 revolution. In spring 2011, the OAG initiated criminal proceedings on suspicion of both money laundering and participation or support of a criminal organization.
The asset recovery process has however repeatedly fallen vulnerable to the beleaguered judicial process domestically, namely when it comes to corruption cases related to Mubarak, his family and members of the former regime.
In a meeting with a delegation of Egyptian journalists to Switzerland earlier this month, Ambassador Valentin Zellweger, director of the Task Force Asset Recovery, said that the return of the assets would ultimately come down to trust in Egypt’s judicial system.
The task force, which falls under the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs’ Directorate of International Law, was created in 2011 in a swift response to the Arab uprisings.
Local reports had suggested on Monday that the Swiss authorities declared that Switzerland has ceased all investigations launched after January 25, 2011 regarding Mubarak’s funds.
An exclusive report by Youm7 quoted a judicial source who said that while Switzerland had decided to extend the freezing of Mubarak and his family’s assets until 2017, the only way for Egypt to retrieve the funds is for there to be final legislative verdicts.
According to Zellweger, the process is now stalled at the phase of information exchange between the Egyptian and Swiss prosecutors. Once this process is complete, an Egyptian court could use the combined Egyptian and Swiss evidence to convict Mubarak and others in the case.
The conviction would then be sent to the Swiss government with a request for the return of the funds to Egypt, a decision that can then be challenged in the Swiss courts.
The Swiss are concerned that, if the information is manipulated or misused, then the decision to share it with Egypt’s authorities might be challenged by the Mubaraks’ lawyers, Zellweger indicated.
If they were to win, he explains, those whose assets have been frozen would be able to undo this decision in the Swiss courts.
According to the OAG’s statement, it remains in close contact with Egypt’s prosecutor general.