So Hosni Mubarak, a military dictator dressed in civilian clothing, has finally gone. And after 30 years, he has made himself stinking rich through his corrupt networks in power. So what if he has lost office? He won't be starving. He will have enough to keep him in retirement, probably somewhere in the UAE. And the money isn't sitting in some vault in Egypt. It's invested in various banks and luxurious properties right around the world.
In the weeks leading to his departure, there were stories in the streets of Egypt long suppressed by the state media that the man was worth $70 million. He has offshore bank accounts in Europe and has big investments in expensive real estate in places like London, Paris, Dubai, and the United States, not to mention resorts on the Red Sea. Now we have reports that Switzerland has frozen his assets and those of his henchmen.
Huguette Labelle, the chair of Transparency International says we need a formal investigation into how he accumulated those millions. You can bet he didn't do it by saving and running a tight household budget. "When there is a dictator who appears to have acquired much more wealth than he would warrant as a salary of a head of a corporation or country, they should investigate immediately because you don't know where those assets are parked," Labelle said.
So how did he get to be so filthy rich? Mubarak was not a businessman but running a country with a suspended constitution for 30 years does offer certain benefits.
As Rick Newman writes in US News, "Mubarak was in a position to take a slice of virtually every significant business deal in the country, from development projects throughout the Nile basin to transit projects on the Suez Canal, which is a conduit for about 4 percent of the world's oil shipments. 'There was no accountability, no need for transparency,' says Prof. Amaney Jamal of Princeton University. 'He was able to reach into the economic sphere and benefit from monopolies, bribery fees, red-tape fees, and nepotism. It was guaranteed profit.' "
Of course, the people in Egypt where, according to the United Nations, about one in three live below the poverty line, never got see any of that wealth.
The big question is whether the next leader of Egypt will line their pockets the way Mubarak did.