Saturday, February 19, 2011

U.S. slower than Swiss on Mubarak funds

Published: Feb. 19, 2011 at 6:34 AM

BERN, Switzerland, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Egyptian rights activists say the United States and European Union should have moved more quickly to freeze former President Hosni Mubarak's assets.

Switzerland took action as soon as Mubarak stepped down last week, invoking a recent law aimed at preventing Swiss banks from becoming a holding place for stolen cash. Banks were ordered to find accounts held by Mubarak, his family and close associates and freeze them.

Adrian Sollberger, a spokesman for the Swiss Foreign Ministry, reported Friday that accounts holding "several dozen millions of Swiss francs" had been identified and blocked, The New York Times reported.

The U.S. Treasury Department only acted Thursday, advising banks to identify any accounts belonging to Mubarak and his family and to freeze the funds. European foreign ministers are scheduled to discuss the issue at a meeting Sunday and Monday.

Omnia Hussein of Transparency International said the delay gives officials time to move money to offshore banks.

"It will give a chance to these officials involved in the corruption to hide their money even further," Hussein said. "Action should be taken immediately."

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