Egypt: Deposed Mubarak May Retain Vast Wealth

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Though Egypt's Hosni Mubarak stepped down from the presidency, leaving Cairo for a resort town, experts say his personal wealth will likely remain intact in other countries.

Sources told ABC News that Mubarak left Cairo for a town called Sharm el-Sheikh, 250 miles away on the Red Sea. Mubarak, however, has vowed never to leave Egypt.

Protestors have long demanded that Mubarak be tried for his corruption, though it is too early to tell what will happen to him. Meanwhile there are reports that Mubarak is occupying an entire floor of one of the many hotels in Sharm el-Sheikh, according to Christopher Davidson, professor of Middle East Politics at Durham University in England.

Davidson said Sharm el-Sheikh, where Mubarak has at least one residence, is a small, wealthy area that attracts vacationers.

"This feels like a different country to Egypt in many ways," said Davidson. "It's relatively difficult to get there. There are police roadblocks you have to get through."

Tourists walk on beach in Sharm el-Sheikh, a resort town on the Red Sea

The town was the target of a terrorist attack in 2005.

Davidson said he expects Mubarak to stay in the Gulf region, though "it's just a matter of which country," such as Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates.

The Swiss government said Friday it is freezing any money belonging to Mubarak or his family in Switzerland.

But Davidson said the former president's wealth in real estate around the world will be more difficult to seize.

"I think it will be only a small part of the cake," said Davdison. "And I reckon it's not his entire wealth."

The Mubarak family's wealth was built largely from military contracts during his days as an air force officer, according to experts. He eventually diversified his investments through his family when he became president in 1981. The family's net worth may be as much as $40 billion, by some estimates.

Amaney Jamal, a political science professor at Princeton, said the estimates are comparable with the vast wealth of leaders in other Gulf countries.

"The business ventures from his military and government service accumulated to his personal wealth," said Jamal. "There was a lot of corruption in this regime and stifling of public resources for personal gain."

Jamal said that Mubarak's assets are most likely in banks outside of Egypt, possibly in the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

"This is the pattern of other Middle Eastern dictators so their wealth will not be taken during a transition, she said. "These leaders plan on this."

Mubarak, his wife and two sons were able to also accumulate wealth through a number of business partnerships with foreigners, said Davidson. He said Egyptian law requires that foreigners give a local business partner a 51 percent stake in most ventures.

Aladdin Elaasar, author of "The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the Uncertain Future of Egypt in the Obama Age," said the Mubaraks own several residences in Egypt, some inherited from previous presidents and the monarchy, and others he has built.

"He had a very lavish lifestyle with many homes around the country," said Elaasar.

Gross national income is $2,070 per family in Egypt, the World Bank estimates. About 20 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, according to a 2010 report by the CIA.

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