Egyptian funds make up around three-quarters of the total one billion Swiss francs ($1.07 billion) of assets linked to Arab dictators that the Alpine republic says it has frozen over the last year.
Switzerland has also blocked funds connected to the former regimes of Tunisia and Libya, as well as to Syria's embattled president. Swiss authorities are cooperating with judicial authorities in Egypt and Tunisia to speed restoration of funds, said Valentin Zellweger, head of the international law department at the Swiss foreign ministry. "Today a total of one billion francs is blocked in the framework of Arab spring," he told a news briefing in Geneva, giving the latest figures for funds seized since early 2011. In July, Egypt's Illicit Gains Authority estimated that Switzerland had frozen $706 million in funds linked to the Mubarak regime . Swiss foreign minister Didier Burkhalter held talks in Cairo on Sunday with his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Kamal Amr on judicial cooperation to restore the embezzled funds, Zellweger said. Some 60 million francs linked to ousted Tunisian president Ben Ali has also been seized, he added. In line with U.N. Security Council sanctions, 100 million francs linked to the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and 100 million francs linked to Syrian President Bashir al-Assad and associates are blocked. Switzerland has worked hard in recent years to improve its image as a haven for ill-gotten gains, seizing the assets of deposed dictators and agreeing in 2009 to soften strict bank secrecy to help other countries catch tax cheats. "In the past, the affair that was resolved most quickly was Abacha and it took five years," Zellweger said, referring to assets linked to the late Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha.