*A US Treasury spokesperson was asked whether it would follow the Swiss government’s lead and freeze fallen Egyptian military dictator Hosni Mubarak’s ill gotten assets.
The Treasury’s answer was properly non-committal and evasive. It shouldn’t be the.
U.S. has a strong case to make for forbidding Mubarak and his family from continuing to live the plush and lavish lifestyle that the known $5 billion in assets they’ve plundered the country of the past decade from their state sanctioned shakedown down of corporations and businesses doing business in Egypt.
Their shakedown operation has been well documented. Companies must pay what amounts to a tribute of from a 5 to 20 percent commission to a company that was set up by one of Mubarak’s sons. This is not a one-time pay-off. The companies must keep paying as long as they do business in the country. The Mubarak family badly abused and misused Egyptian law that requires foreign companies to give a majority stake in their Egyptian operations to fatten their bank accounts and holdings. The local partner or sponsor that the law requires for a foreign company to set up operations in the country was conveniently routed through the Mubarak family or one of his ruling party cronies.
The full extent of the state sanctioned family rip-off is not known. But it has been documented that a big chunk of the Mubarak booty is ploughed into real estate developments, properties and palatial homes in New York, Beverly Hills and European cities. The Mubarak illicit operation is neat, tidy, and wildly profitable, and has cost the Egyptian economy untold billions. Global Financial Integrity, a Washington DC based government financial watchdog group, did a comprehensive study of the drain on the Egyptian economy from the shakedown operation of Mubarak, his family and cronies. It found that the Egyptian economy has hemorrhaged to the tune of more than $6 billion per year. Over an eight year period from 2000 to 2008, the loss from the Mubarak shakedown operation totaled a staggering $57.2 billion flood of money to illicit financial activities and official government corruption. Egyptian activists have called this exactly what it is a massive squandering of the resources of Egypt.The result of the theft is a staggering poverty rate, massive unemployment, chronic shortages, endemic waste, and fraud, and chronic stagnation in the country.
The US has the power to freeze Mubarak’s assets and the precedent for doing it. In 2001, the United States used the provisions of the Patriot Act to aggressively go after Saddam’s Hussein’s and his cronies assets in the US. It took ownership of nearly $2 billion of Iraqi assets (Hussein related) and then transferred nearly $1 billion of the frozen monies to a fund for Iraq development. The US also has a variety of legal and financial weapons it has used to combat money laundering and terrorist financing to recover foreign regimes’ illicit gained assets.
The Swiss government in its statement announcing the freeze on Mubarak’s assets was blunt. It said “The Federal Council is taking all the measures required to avoid any misappropriation of government assets.” The US government should do know less than that with Mubarak and company’s Egyptian plunder.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts national Capitol Hill broadcast radio talk show on KTYM Radio Los Angeles and WFAX Radio Washington D.C. streamed on ktym.com and wfax.com and internet TV broadcast on thehutchinsonreportnews.com. Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson
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