News you may have missed #522 (European Union edition)

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Mubarak delayed exit in order to move secret funds, say intel sources

Hosni Mubarak

Hosni Mubarak

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
One of the reasons why Egypt’s disgraced ex-president kept prolonging his rule amidst ferocious anti-government protests this month, was to transfer billions of dollars-worth of personal assets into bank accounts around the world. British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph quotes a “senior Western intelligence official” who claims that Hosni Mubarak’s fund managers began transferring his extensive fortune to numbered bank accounts during the first days of the popular revolution in Egypt. The intelligence official told The Telegraph that Western intelligence services were “aware of some urgent conversations” within the Mubarak family about how to best protect their fortune from Egyptian and international financial investigators. The Mubaraks may have thus pre-empted the freezing of their accounts in Zurich, which was announced by the Swiss government on Friday. In this, Hosni Mubarak appears to have learned from Tunisia’s former dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was forced to flee with his family to Saudi Arabia last month, without the benefit of his Swiss bank assets. The latter were frozen following an official request by the Tunisian government. In the case of Mubarak, whose vast $70 billion fortune is mostly managed by his son Gamal, it appears that most of his Swiss bank assets were moved to accounts in third countries in the days before his resignation and are thus “gone by now”, according to one US government official who spoke to The Telegraph on condition of anonymity. Read more of this post

Tunisian security officials arrested, killed, amid counter-coup fears

Ali Seriati

Ali Seriati

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Several key figures in Tunisia’s crumbling security apparatus have being either apprehended or killed, amid fears that they were planning a countercoup against the country’s new unity government. Most notable among the arrestees is General Ali Seriati, longtime director of deposed Tunisian dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s Presidential Security Force. Seriati was arrested on Sunday, reportedly “by citizens as he tried to cross into Libya”. Reports from Tunis suggest that Ben Ali’s Interior Minister, Rafik Belham Kacem, who commanded the country’s’ domestic intelligence apparatus, has also been detained. Meanwhile, the BBC reports that Imed Trabelsi, a politically powerful nephew of the former dictator’s wife, was lynched to death late on Saturday. Seriati and Kacem’s arrests are seen as attempts by the new government to prevent a widely feared coup plot, organized by the remnants of Ben Ali’s security apparatus, aimed at returning him to power. Initial stages of the coup materialized on Saturday, when several gunmen riding in unmarked cars launched a wave of armed attacks against opposition targets in capital Tunis and elsewhere. Political observers in the country appeared to immediately connect the attacks with General Seriati’s Presidential Security Force, said to include some of the former president’s staunchest supporters. Read more of this post