Thursday, March 31, 2011

US freezing Despots' money: 'A matter of days' for some & never for others!

More than a month after the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the United States has yet to respond to a request by Cairo to freeze his assets, Egyptian officials say. In a country where a politically emancipated public is eager to hold the former authoritarian government to account, Washington’s delay is deepening already negative feelings toward the United States. Egyptian activists point to the quickness with which U.S. officials moved to freeze the assets of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. U.S. officials say they are still reviewing the request by Egypt’s prosecutor general, but they add privately that the matter is more complicated than a simple freezing of funds. U.S. officials say that in Libya’s case, they were able to freeze $32 billion in a matter of days ... The rationale — stemming funding for an autocrat firing on his own people — was also much clearer. (Mubarak killed just under 2000 of his own people!) But in the case of Mubarak — an individual rather than a state power, and now a former president — the situation is murkier, officials say........
“There are unrealistically high expectations in Egypt about the Mubarak money,” said Michele Dunne, a Middle East expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “As an American, it’s one of the first things Egyptians bring up in conversation with you. They say, ‘You in the West are on trial here.’ There are suspicions that we’re just sitting on top of millions for Mubarak.” In Cairo, Egypt’s newly appointed justice minister talked this week about the importance of recovering such assets. “We must collect evidence that these monies were collected illegally so that foreign countries agree to freeze these accounts,” Mohamed Abdel Aziz el-Gendy told reporters. He added that Egypt had sent experts abroad to track down the money and start legal procedures. ....... A U.S. government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said the Justice Department has been working with the Egyptian government to determine whether any U.S. accounts or assets are the ill-gotten proceeds of Mubarak or his family (OR WHAT? HARD EARNED CASH FROM 'DESPOTING'?). A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment...."

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