New York: Funds belonging to the family of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and the former senior ministers of his regime have been discovered in Switzerland, a Swiss government official said.
However, the official did not specify the amount of money or who controlled the account, The New York Times reported.
"The first traces have been identified. At the end of the week, we might have a better picture." said the Swiss official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The disclosure came as the new military-led Egyptian government had asked countries to freeze the assets of government officials in the previous regime.
Egyptian opposition members had expressed fear that the military would shield Mubarak, a former air force chief, and his relatives from an investigation, the NYT said.
After Mubarak stepped down, the Swiss government immediately froze his assets and it plans to send the money back to Egypt, according to a Time Magazine report.
A statement from the Swiss government said that quick action on Mubarak's money was taken "to avoid any misappropriation of Egyptian government assets".
Swift action was possible due to a new legislation, The Restitution of Illicit Assets Act (RIAA), which allows the government to immediately freeze and confiscate the funds of politically exposed persons even if the implicated nation has not asked for the money back.
The legislation, which went into effect on February 1, makes it difficult for corrupt political leaders to open accounts in Switzerland or lay claim to the assets hidden therein.
"Normally, a foreign country lodges an official request when it seeks to find and freeze the illegally obtained assets of one of its corrupt officials," said James Nason, spokesman for the Swiss Banking Association (SBA), an
umbrella group for the country's financial institutions.
"This Act was designed to deal with situations involving countries that have no functioning legal system and can't competently follow through with any judicial procedure," he added.