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Egypt: European Union’s lift of Hosni Mubarak sanctions signals impunity for those accused of corruption

On Wednesday, the EU General Court confirmed the unlawfulness of the EU sanctions against deceased Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, allowing his family access to the funds. The Court concluded, among other things, that the Council had not adequately verified whether the right of defence and the right to effective judicial protection were sufficiently respected during the Egyptian proceedings on which the sanctions were based. Hosni Mubarak was investigated for allegedly misappropriating public funds and was convicted by Egyptian authorities for misappropriating public funds in one case (see also: CIFAR and Al Araby). His wealth was reported to be concealed in France, Germany and Spain. The legal battle lasted over a decade, and the court ordered the Council of the European Union to pay back any costs the family incurred in the proceedings.

Kinda Hattar, Transparency International Middle East and North Africa regional advisor, responded to the news:

“Eleven years ago, the Egyptian people rose up against autocracy and corruption, overthrowing Hosni Mubarak in a legitimate revolution. The European Union’s imposition of sanctions in 2011 was a powerful signal to leaders everywhere that they could not abuse entrusted power without consequences. Now, the EU Council's inability to pursue suspected cases of misappropriation of public funds with due process sets a worrying precedent.

“This could not come at a worse time as we see the impact of kleptocracy plundering public resources, undermining democracy and provoking instability globally. For too long, the European Union has served as an attractive destination for dirty money. While there have been efforts to reform the system to halt illicit flows and track and recover ill-gotten assets, this ruling shows more must be done.

“Transparency International calls on the EU to use the upcoming reform of its asset recovery legislation to make it easier to confiscate stolen assets, to share publicly available data on asset recovery efforts and to enable the return of assets to benefit the victims. The Egyptian people suffered the rule of Hosni Mubarak for 30 years – if public funds were misappropriated, they should now enrich them, not those who supported the oppression.”

Note to editors

Note: This release has been updated and additional citations have been added as of 29 July 2022 and 21 September 2022