When the fall of President Mubarak was announced on 11 February 2011, the Swiss government immediately decided to freeze the assets potentially held in Switzerland by several Egyptian individuals belonging to the former Mubarak regime. The ordinance to this effect was quickly issued to prevent the assets concerned from being withdrawn and hidden before the Egyptian authorities had the time to initiate the necessary criminal proceedings.
Thanks to their effective monitoring system, Swiss banks were able to quickly identify and freeze the assets of the targeted individuals. A total of CHF 410 million was frozen. These assets were not confiscated but frozen. The freezing of these assets does not demonstrate their legal or illegal origin. Thus, it is now up to the Egyptian judicial authorities to determine, through criminal proceedings, whether these assets were illicitly acquired.
Switzerland hopes to be able to quickly return to the Egyptian people all frozen assets whose origin is proved by the Egyptian authorities to be illegal. It is ready to cooperate with the Egyptian authorities on international mutual legal assistance. The visit of the delegation of experts from Switzerland on 10 and 11 May 2011 was undertaken in this context. The talks focused on the technical aspects of the judicial cooperation between the two countries. They have taken place in a very cooperative and constructive atmosphere and it has been convened to continue them.
Switzerland has a long tradition in the fight against illicitly acquired "potentate assets" (dictators' assets) and has for years been committed to the recovery of assets of illicit origin and the fight against corruption. It has established a comprehensive legislative framework to prevent Switzerland as a financial centre from being used as a haven for assets of criminal origin. Moreover, over the past 15 years, Switzerland has returned CHF 1.7 billion to the people of countries affected by corruption, more than any other financial centre of similar size.
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