The European Union is lifting sanctions today on assets belonging to six members of late President Hosni Mubarak’s family and three other senior Egyptian political figures, almost 10 years after they were first imposed.
The lifting of the sanctions appears to remove the last major obstacle to the Mubarak family gaining access to their funds in Europe, including over US$300 million belonging to Mubarak’s sons, Alaa and Gamal, that was frozen in Swiss bank accounts after the 2011 uprising. The family could also stand to gain still more money, as they are now considering suing the EU Council for damages.
The European Council first imposed the sanctions following Mubarak’s ouster in 2011 after 30 years in power in order to “assist the Egyptian authorities” to recover misappropriated state funds. The same sanctions were imposed on his wife, Suzanne, his sons Alaa and Gamal and their spouses, Heidi Rasekh and Khadiga al-Gammal. Mubarak died in February 2020 at the age of 91.
After a legal battle spanning almost 10 years, a December ruling at the European Union’s highest court, the Court of European Justice, found that the sanctions were put in place unfairly and that the information Egyptian courts had provided against Mubarak and his family were insufficient to prolong the freeze. The court also ordered the EU Council to pay the Mubarak family’s legal costs. A judicial source told Mada Masr at the time that the ruling was the first in what was expected to be a series of decisions to cancel asset freezes on the rest of the Mubarak family’s European assets.
After Britain’s exit from the EU, the UK government decided separately in January that it would not renew sanctions against the Mubaraks.
Separate sanctions placed on Switzerland-based funds belonging to Alaa and Gamal Mubarak by the Swiss Federal Council in 2011 were also lifted in 2017.
The EU Council sanctions both froze any assets held by the six family members in Europe, and forbade nationals from EU member states and legal entities in the EU from making funds available to those listed, either directly or indirectly.
The EU Council announced it would lift the sanctions against nine Egyptians on March 12, including the Mubarak family, former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and his wife, as well as former Tourism Minister Zoheir Garana. The March 12 decision comes into effect today.
In a press release by the UK-based law firm representing the family, Gamal Mubarak stated on Saturday that the family will continue to pursue legal action against the EU Council and “will pursue all available avenues to claim damages from the EU Council.”
The withdrawal of sanctions on the Mubaraks’ EU-based assets is the latest in a retreat from efforts to sanction Egypt’s former ruling family.
A ruling at the Egyptian Court of Cassation in November called on the Central Bank of Egypt to end the freeze on the Mubarak family’s funds and enable them to dispose of their funds as they wish.
In May 2015, Alaa and Gamal Mubarak were sentenced alongside their father to three years in jail for embezzling at least LE125 million in public funds earmarked for maintaining presidential palaces. Their sentences were covered by time served and the temporary withdrawal of certain political rights.
In a separate abortive investigation into their alleged involvement in insider trading in the 2007 sale of Al Watany Bank of Egypt, Alaa and Gamal Mubarak spent just five days behind bars and were cleared of all charges in February 2020.
Along with the restoration of any EU-based assets, Alaa and Gamal Mubarak also stand to regain their political rights, including the right to run for office, in October this year after they were banned as a result of the 2015 embezzlement conviction.