Search for justice begins in Egypt

Investigations into alleged corruption by Mubarak’s government is having a severe impact on some of Egypt’s largest industrial and construction firms

On 13 April, Egypt’s prosecutor general ordered the detention of former president Hosni Mubarak and his sons, Alaa and Gamal. The news came as a victory for the demonstrators that had remained on the streets for several more weeks following the uprising, calling for the former president and senior members of his administration to be put on trial.

Among the protesters’ demands are that Mubarak and his associates be called to account for alleged corruption in the awarding of contracts and the alleged misappropriation of state funds.

Some action has already being taken. European Union members decided on 21 March to freeze the assets of the former president and leading members of his regime. A committee has been set up to attempt to recover the frozen assets.

Lengthy investigation

The value of the assets is unknown and is unlikely to be disclosed during what is expected to be a lengthy investigation. Media reports that the personal fortune of Mubarak could amount to as much as $70bn have been largely dismissed by economists.

But investigations into alleged corruption in the award of contracts by Mubarak’s government could have economic repercussions that go far beyond the return of frozen assets. The contracts concerned involve some of the largest listed companies in the country, particularly in the construction and industrial sectors.

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Richard Nield is a freelance journalist, photographer and filmmaker covering the Middle East and Africa. In 10 years covering the region, he has been published and broadcast by clients including the BBC, Reuters, Al Jazeera, The Economist, The Financial Times, The Independent and Foreign Policy magazine. He has reported from throughout the region, including Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, South Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.