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Investigation into European assets of former Presidents Ben Ali and Mubarak coordinated by Eurojust

The Hague, 16 December 2011

On 12 and 13 December, Eurojust hosted a two-day coordination meeting with the participation of magistrates and police officers from all the countries involved, as well as Interpol.

As a result of the violent popular revolts in Tunisia and Egypt starting in December 2010 and January 2011, the so-called Arab spring, both Presidents Ben Ali and Mubarak were deposed. The national authorities of both countries then issued international arrest warrants for both former Presidents.

To recover the financial assets, properties and goods located in Europe, illegally acquired by the ex-Presidents, their families, entourage and collaborators, letters rogatory were issued to most of the Member States by the national authorities of Tunisia and Egypt. Following a joint decision, a Europe-wide financial investigation was launched to identify assets, freeze bank accounts, and confiscate money and properties.

From the start, Eurojust was requested by the French authorities to coordinate all these investigations, and to actively participate in the exchange of information in these cases. In addition to the Member States, Canada and the USA were also involved as possible locations of these assets. Coordination by Eurojust was necessary, as separate investigations were opened in different countries.

In this coordination meeting, information was exchanged by all countries to achieve a better coordinated approach towards the execution of the letters rogatory, and the further investigation of both cases.

After the meeting, Ms Sylvie Petit-Leclair, National Member for France, commented:

“This was a very important meeting for Eurojust and the French Desk. We were able, thanks to the Eurojust technical infrastructure, including simultaneous interpretation, to put all the investigators, prosecutors and police officers around one table to improve the exchange of vital information. We received valuable support from Eurojust’s Case Analysis Unit, which was able to bring important and missing elements into the case. From the beginning, it became clear that there was a lack of information amongst the investigators; complementary information was requested from all parties involved, considering the unique situation and differences in legislation. We offered a venue where everyone could speak with each other, for the first time, in person.”

Mr Riadh Belkadhi, Avocat Général des Affaires Pénales, also commented:

“The meeting provided a fruitful exchange of information into the seizure of assets of the ex-President and family, entourage and collaborators, as they committed offences by laundering money and placing it in foreign bank accounts. Thanks to Eurojust, and especially the French Desk, judicial and police partners were able to exchange information directly, without the need to use the sometimes lengthy diplomatic channels. The French Desk paid a visit to the Ministry of Justice in Tunisia to prepare this meeting in the best way possible. Eurojust has demonstrated by its coordination the swift and fruitful execution of letters rogatory between the parties present. So we have the guarantee that the Tunisian demands will be executed in the shortest possible time in this very complex dossier.”

The Head of the Egyptian delegation, Counsellor Mr Adel Fahmy, Director of Department of International Cooperation, Ministry of Justice, and Counsellor Dr Mohamed Barakat, Member of the Department, afterwards commented:

“This meeting was very important. Egypt has sent many letters rogatory to most of the Member States to recover assets and properties of the ex-President. We received various replies that we needed to unify in view of the different legislation and judicial systems in Europe. Today, at Eurojust, we met in person with our colleagues and clarified our requests for legal assistance. Eurojust is a very impressive organisation, improving the good will amongst all participants. This meeting will enable us to follow up the process to the end, and so we believe it will be possible to recover all the assets, for the welfare of the Egyptian people. All participants are committed and showed the political will to help Egypt. We especially would like to thank the French Desk at Eurojust, Ms Petit-Leclair and Mr Abassi. When they came to Egypt to prepare this meeting, they encouraged us to participate. We are assured that this cooperation will lead to a successful outcome.”

For more information, please contact:

Mr Joannes THUY, Spokesperson - Head of Press & PR Service
EUROJUST, Maanweg 174, 2516 AB, The Hague, the Netherlands
Tel +31 70 412 5508
E-mail: jthuy[AT]eurojust.europa.eu