Credit Suisse account holders came from countries hit by Arab Spring protests

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The Arab Spring drew enormous scrutiny to the wealth Arab elites had stashed abroad. A leak of bank data reveals how figures linked to regimes in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Jordan, and elsewhere held hundreds of millions at Credit Suisse before and after the uprising.

Credit Suisse customers included heads of state, royal families, ministers, spy chiefs, and government-connected businessmen from across the Arab world, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) said in a report.

The account holders came from over half a dozen countries hit by the Arab Spring protests, including Syria, Yemen, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, and Jordan. These accounts, which provide a glimpse into the wealth held abroad by Arab elites in the decade before the uprising, were collectively worth at least $1 billion held in just one Swiss bank.

The data also sheds light on the role Credit Suisse played for years in allowing some Arab elites to stash their wealth abroad, even as they and their governments were accused of compromising an entire region through corruption and nepotism – grievances at the heart of the Arab Spring protests.

The sons of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak held six accounts between them, with the highest maximum balance worth over 277 million Swiss francs ($197 million at the time).

A network of Mubarak in-laws and business associates also held accounts before and after the Arab Spring, with tens of millions of Swiss francs in assets.

Some accounts remained open even after their holders were targeted by crowds protesting corruption or were subject to legal actions by prosecutors.

Now, leaked data from Credit Suisse gives new insight into some of the wealth the Mubaraks and other elites held at the Zurich-based bank in the years before the Arab Spring, and after it started to rattle their hold on power, the report said.

The data shows that the Mubarak brothers held six accounts at Credit Suisse. One of Alaa Mubarak’s accounts was opened as early as 1987, when he was 27. Another joint account held by the two had a maximum balance worth 277 million Swiss francs amounts previously suggested by statements from Egyptian authorities, but never confirmed.

The data also revealed previously unreported accounts held by the fathers of the Mubarak brothers’ wives, some holding millions of Swiss francs. More accounts were held by some of the family’s business partners, including some implicated in corruption trials both before and after the Arab Spring.

The leaked data contained more accounts from Egypt than any other Arab country. But many wealthy and powerful figures from around the region also show up in the data: presidents, royal families, ministers, spies, and business moguls with close government ties, the report said.

(Sanjeev Sharma can be reached at Sanjeev.s@ians.in)

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