Egypt asks foreign countries to unfreeze Mubarak-linked tycoon’s assets
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Egypt asks foreign countries to unfreeze Mubarak-linked tycoon’s assets

Hussein Salem transfers 75% of wealth to authorities after sentencing for exporting under-priced natural gas to Israel

An Egyptian couple walks past a mural depicting military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi on the left side of the face and ousted president Hosni Mubarak on the right side, with Arabic that reads, 'Who assigned you did not die, No for gas export to Israel, the revolution continues,' at Tahrir Square in Cairo. (photo credit: AP/Nasser Nasser)
An Egyptian couple walks past a mural depicting military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi on the left side of the face and ousted president Hosni Mubarak on the right side, with Arabic that reads, 'Who assigned you did not die, No for gas export to Israel, the revolution continues,' at Tahrir Square in Cairo. (photo credit: AP/Nasser Nasser)

Egyptian authorities said Tuesday they are asking foreign countries to unfreeze the assets of a tycoon who was tried in absentia and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for exporting natural gas to Israel for prices lower than those prevailing on world markets.

Hussein Salem, once a close associate of former president Hosni Mubarak, allegedly sold Mubarak and his family five luxury villas at a fraction of their market value in return for landing a lucrative deal to export natural gas to Israel.

Egypt asked Spain, Switzerland and Hong Kong to unblock Salem’s foreign-held assets after he handed over 75 percent of his and his family’s wealth in exchange for dropping corruption cases against him.

Salem fled to Spain after the January 2011 uprising that overthrew Mubarak.

The decision by a committee tasked with retrieving illicit funds and assets followed Egypt’s retrieval of Salem’s assets and funds totaling 5.3 billion Egyptian pounds ($600 million), the Egyptian prosecutor general said in a Tuesday statement.

The decision also called on Interpol to remove Salem’s name from its “Red Notice” list and for him to be allowed unimpeded travel.

Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak waves to his supporters from the balcony of his room at the Maadi military hospital in Cairo on November 29, 2014. (AFP/Al-Watan newspaper/Mohamed Nabil)
Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak waves to his supporters from the balcony of his room at the Maadi military hospital in Cairo on November 29, 2014. (AFP/Al-Watan newspaper/Mohamed Nabil)

Salem’s lawyer Mahmoud Kebeish said earlier this month that Salem was unable to leave Spain and travel “because of the Red Notice.”

Spanish authorities arrested Salem in June 2011 after a request from Egypt, though he was released on bail a few days later. He has been banned from leaving Spain since then.

Several other Mubarak-era officials have sought to cut a deal with the state in corruption cases including Mubarak’s longtime chief-of-staff Zakaria Azmi and former trade minister Rasheed Mohammed Rasheed.

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