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Thu 10 Feb 2011 05:33 PM

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Middle East, African elites hoard about $225bn offshore

Around 41% of total assets of wealthy from Africa, Middle East are held in EU-based banks, research firm says

Middle East, African elites hoard about $225bn offshore
MONEY MATTERS: The Middle East and Africa account for about 17 percent of the world’s offshore wealth, according to MyPrivateBanking

Middle
Eastern and African leaders and ruling elites hold an estimated $225bn of
illegally obtained assets with foreign banks, according to research firm
MyPrivateBanking.

That’s
15 percent of the $1.5 trillion the wealthy from those regions hold offshore,
the Kreuzlingen, Switzerland-based firm said today, after surveying bankers,
academics and organizations such as Transparency International.

“Over
the decades these regimes have grown an entire ruling class consisting of
family, friends, businesses, security forces and secret service that have
transferred significant wealth out of their home countries,” said Steffen
Binder, research director of MyPrivateBanking.

Switzerland
on January 19 froze assets of Tunisia’s ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben
Ali and those of Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to cede power
to the internationally recognized winner of November’s presidential election.
Egypt’s rich are considering taking money out of the country after violent
protests against President Hosni Mubarak, Karim al-Korey, an associate director
at Arab Bank (Switzerland) Ltd said last week.

An
estimated 41 percent of the total assets of the wealthy from Africa and the
Middle East are held in banks based in the European Union, including the U.K.’s
Channel Islands and Luxembourg, MyPrivateBanking said. About 33 percent is held
in Switzerland with 8 percent in Asia and the rest in North America and the
Caribbean, the firm said.

The
Middle East and Africa account for about 17 percent of the world’s offshore
wealth, according to MyPrivateBanking.

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