One of the major factors, which let to the January 25 Revolution, is CORRUPTION. It reached its peak during the last decade.
Since the collapse of the Mubarak regime on February 11, the local and international press began to publish reports on the corruption of both, high governmental officials and of business people, who cooperated in their abuse of state and public wealth. According to Transparency International and British newspaper (Guardian, 203/2011) the Mubarak’s family wealth was estimated between $40-70 billion. However, during a press interview (Al Masry al Yom 2/20/2011) the new Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq stated that Mubarak’s family wealth is the responsibility of the Supreme Council of the Armed forces and not the responsibility of his office. This was indeed an ambiguous statement that was received with sarcasm. Furthermore, many high officials starting with the previous Prime Minister A. Nathif and several members of his cabinet are presently under investigation; their assets have been frozen and they are prevented from leaving the country.
The Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Alyom (2/3/2011) listed the following previous government officials and their estimated wealth:
- 1. Ahmad el Maghrabi, previous minister of housing, whose assets are listed at $11 billion Egyptian pounds
- 2. Zuhair Garanah, previous minister of tourism, whose assets are listed at $13 billion Egyptian pounds
- 3. Habib el Adly, previous minister of interior, whose assets are listed at $8 billion Egypt pounds
- 4. Ahmed Ezz, previous director of the Egyptian ruling party (NPD) whose assets are listed at $18 billion Egyptian pounds
They were all arrested on February 18, 2011, and under strict rules of investigation.
Others such as Rashid M. Rashid, minister of trade, Youssef Boutros Ghali minister of the treasury, Ouns el Fiqi minister of information are also under investigation but have not been arrested yet. There are others who served in previous cabinets and who are on the suspect list of the General Prosecutor. The latter has issued an order preventing all suspects from leaving the country.
Those with less financial assets such as between 1.5-3 billion pounds were also prevented from leaving Egypt. There are some other well known business men connected to the ruling party whose names were mentioned as having been granted thousands of feddans (acres) of land to be cultivated and instead the land was used to build luxurious compounds and tourism villages. The loss from such deals to the government was estimated to be 80 billion Egyptian pounds. As of February 21, the number of government officials and business people listed for corruption were 25.
To ensure that no one will flee the country, the transitional government has issued an order forbidding private planes to leave. Furthermore, the Egyptian Airport Security has stopped the shipment of one ton of foreign currency on two foreign airlines that were on their way to Germany and Switzerland. The owner or owners of these shipments were never revealed.
The Arab International Exchange Bank headed by the previous prime minister Atef ‘Ebeid, and which was not subject to international banking rules, transferred, last week, large sums of money as it was reported by the Egyptian newspaper Al Shorouk (2/9/2011). This financial institution is owned by Egypt, Libya, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman, and the depositors were mainly business people. The bank is now under investigation by the General Prosecutor.
It is important to bring up the fact that Egypt’s foreign debt is $35 billion and the national debt has been estimated at 800 billion Egyptian pounds, which is close to $200 billion. Second, the estimated money laundering to foreign financial institutions exceeds Egypt’s total debts. Many Western banks have begun to freeze the assets of Egyptians under investigation.
The question is how much of that stolen wealth is to be returned to Egypt? This remains to be seen.