Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Phillip Inmanuk / The Guardian & Al Jazeera – 2011-02-12 00:13:59
Worldâ€™s Richest Tyrant:
Mubarakâ€™s Unfathomable Wealth
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(February 10, 2011) — How much money can someone steal after 30 years as the dictator of a major country with a command economy and a military reaping billions in “off-budget” profits? Quite a bit, as it turns out.
Though Forbes Magazine lists Mexican telephone giant Carlos Slim Helu as the worldâ€™s richest man, his $50+ billion net worth may actually take a distant second to the unfathomable wealth Mubarak has managed to assemble over decades of dictatorship and years as a top military official before that.
Indeed, while the overall size of Mubarak’s personal fortune is not well documented (and for good reason, because much of that money surely vanished out of government coffers), estimates put his wealth in the realm of $70 billion, held in British and Swiss banks and in real estate holdings around the world.
Experts say Mubarak had the foresight to put most of his wealth abroad, where he and his family will still be able to get at it after his seemingly inevitable deposition. But with a net worth that would make the ancient pharaohs blush, the real question is what on earth is keeping him stubbornly hanging on to the reins of power in Egypt — surely he has taken enough to be satisfied by now.
Mubarak Family Fortune Could Reach $70 Billion, Say Experts
Phillip Inmanuk / The Guardian/UK
LONDON (February 4, 2011) — President Hosni Mubarak’s family fortune could be as much as $70 billion (Ã‚Â£43.5 billion) according to analysis by Middle East experts, with much of his wealth in British and Swiss banks or tied up in real estate in London, New York, Los Angeles and along expensive tracts of the Red Sea coast.
After 30 years as president and many more as a senior military official, Mubarak has had access to investment deals that have generated hundreds of millions of pounds in profits. Most of those gains have been taken offshore and deposited in secret bank accounts or invested in upmarket homes and hotels.
According to a report last year in the arabic newspaper Al Khabar, Mubarak has properties in Manhattan and exclusive Beverly Hills addresses on Rodeo Drive.
His sons, Gamal and Alaa, are also billionaires. Gamal and Hosni Mubarak are reported to have built up huge fortunes, including properties in London. A protest outside Gamal’s ostentatious home at 28 Wilton Place in Belgravia, Central London, highlighted the family’s appetite for western trophy assets.
Amaney Jamal, a political science professor at Princeton University, said the estimate of $40bn-70bn was comparable with the vast wealth of leaders in other Gulf countries.
“The business ventures from his military and government service accumulated to his personal wealth,” she told ABC News. “There was a lot of corruption in this regime and stifling of public resources for personal gain.
“This is the pattern of other middle eastern dictators so their wealth will not be taken during a transition. These leaders plan on this.”
Al Khabar said it understood the Mubaraks kept much of their wealth offshore in the Swiss bank UBS and the Bank of Scotland, part of Lloyds Banking Group, although this information could be at least 10 years old.
There are only sketchy details of exactly where the Mubaraks have generated their wealth and its final destination.
Christopher Davidson, professor of Middle East politics at Durham University, said Mubarak, his wife, Suzanne, and two sons were able to accumulate wealth through a number of business partnerships with foreign investors and companies, dating back to when he was in the military and in a position to benefit from corporate corruption.
He said most Gulf states required foreigners give a local business partner a 51% stake in start-up ventures. In Egypt, the figure is commonly nearer 20%, but still gives politicians and close allies in the military a source of huge profits with no initial outlay and little risk.
“Almost every project needs a sponsor and Mubarak was well-placed to take advantage of any deals on offer,” he said.
“Much of his money is in Swiss bank accounts and London property. These are the favourites of middle eastern leaders and there is no reason to think Mubarak is any different. Gamal’s Wilton Place home is likely to be the tip of the iceberg.”
Al Khabar named a series of major western companies that, partnered with the Mubarak family, generated an estimated $15m a year in profits.
Aladdin Elaasar, author of The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the Uncertain Future of Egypt in the Obama Age, said the Mubaraks own several residences in Egypt, some inherited from previous presidents and the monarchy, and others the president has commissioned.
Hotels and land around the Sharm el-Sheikh tourist resort are also a source of Mubarak family wealth.
How Did Egypt become So Corrupt?
A picture is emerging of a state where wealth fuels political power and political power buys wealth.
(February 8, 2011) — It has been nearly two weeks and the protesters in Egypt are still calling for the president to leave. Many Egyptians feel that the only ones benefitting from the country’s wealth are businessmen with ties to the ruling National Democratic Party.
Reports about the wealth of Hosni Mubarak, his family and the people close to him have started to emerge. According to some reports, Mubarak himself has an estimated net worth of $40 billion to $70 billion. They paint a picture of a state where wealth fuels political power and political power buys wealth.
How did Egypt become so corrupt? And what can a new government really do about it? Joining us to discuss these issues are: Arwa Hassan, a senior program coordinator at Transparency International; Ibrahim Khayat, an economist and business analyst; and Husam Abdullah, a UK-based Egyptian activist and a member of the Egyptian Association for Change.
Democracy in the Arab world?
Will the despots of the region be able to restore their authority through bribes and belated concessions?
(February 7, 2011) — The protests that overthrew half a century of autocratic rule in Tunisia are spreading. The governments of Egypt, Algeria and Yemen are feeling the wrath of decades of repression as people take to the streets and demand freedom — freedom of expression, freedom from forced choices.
The spread of democratic voices in the region is unprecedented, drawing comparisons with Eastern Europe in the 1980s, but is it a false dawn? Will the despots and strongmen of the region be able to restore their authority through bribes and belated concessions, or is the genie out of the bottle? And who will be next?
Our guests today are: Rashid Khalidi, a professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University; Clovis Maksoud, the director of the Center for the Global South; and Samer Shehata, a professor of Arab Studies at Georgetown University. Our interviewees are: Mehran Kamrava, the interim dean of Georgetown University, Qatar; and Bernard Haykel, a professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. This special episode of Empire aired from Sunday, February 6, 2011.
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