Spain freezes assets of detained Mubarak associate

June 17, 2011 - 6:59 AM

MADRID (AP) — Spain has frozen euro33 million ($47 million) in accounts held by a detained Egyptian associate of ousted president Hosni Mubarak and relatives of the detainee, who is also wanted back home, officials said Friday.

Hussein Salem, his son and an associate described as a frontman were arrested in a wealthy Madrid suburb and the money was allegedly obtained illegally in Egypt and sent to accounts in Spain hweld by Salem and his family, the National Police said. Police also seized homes worth euro10 million.

The Egyptian state news agency MENA had said Thursday Salem was arrested on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca.

A Spanish National Court official says Salem was appearing there Friday before two judges: one handling the Spanish probe and another dealing with the international warrant under which Salem was arrested.

Salem also holds a Spanish passport, the official said. She spoke on condition of anonymity in line with court policy.

Salem is wanted in Egypt on charges of bribing Mubarak and his family and squandering public funds, Egyptian officials say.

Salem is one of the most secretive businessmen in Egypt.

His detention was seen in Egypt as a major step toward unraveling secrets of corruption throughout the reign of Mubarak; and possibly a key to locate and retrieve much of the Mubarak's riches, believed to be stashed abroad at a time when the country's economy is depressed, months after the uprising. Some estimate Mubarak's holdings at tens of billions of dollars.

Salem left Egypt a week before Mubarak was forced to resign on February 11 after 18 days of protests. After Mubarak's ouster, the protesters continued to press for the prosecution of Mubarak and his cronies for what they say were years of abuse and corruption.