So How Did Mubarak Steal $70 Billion?

You have to hand it to the guy-amassing a fortune like this takes work!
Of course, he had 32+ years to work-I expect that he had his hooks into every contract, every purchase, every action involving money, that the Egyptian government had.
My real question: Egypt is a poor country-surely some sudits must have found a huge hole that money was vanishing in to-how do you conceal such massive thefts?
Of course, with the US taxpayers forking over >$3 billion/year, stealing this amount should have been doable.
Anyway, does Mubarak have his loot in Switzerland? Any chance he migh be forced to give it back?

One source says that the $70 billion estimates are not credible, and that his real worth is around $5 billion.

Bernie Madoff “sucessfully” stole $18 billion*, and didn’t have a single oil well
*number as close to reality as the OP’s $70 billion

Yeah, I have seen discussions critiquing the crazy numbers. In my SubSah Africa experience the numbers thrown out about dictators are usually innumerate journalists counting up maximum possible incoming revenues and never thinking about costs, distribution, etc.

I’d be surprises if Mubarak even has US$1billion. Some hundreds of millions is more likely in my guess.

I have heard that his Swiss accounts have been frozen.
He may well only have what money he could carry with hi when he left Egypt.

Bak-sheesh (greasing palms) is a time-honored business model in the Middle East. Western companies that try to set up business there quickly find out that it may not be worth the effort, as bribes must be paid to everyone at every turn, and it never stops. Everybody in the food chain gets their cut. That can add up to some serious cash over three decades, particularly if you are also skimming from the foreign aid dollars that are coming in.

Also remember Mubarak, like all dictators, has friends and relatives. He may have “stole” money and channeled it to his brothers or other relatives.

So while he “stole” the money he didn’t get it. It went to relatives or other high ranking people in his administration that help him keep the power.

According to ABC the Mubark family actually made most of its money on investing money they earned before he became dictator. He used his position in the Egyptian airforce to steer military contracts to his personal advantage.

There’s a story in the Economist about why Nigeria is floundering while Indonesia is doing much better economically. It concerns two technocrats educated in the USA. The Nigerian visits the the Indonesian and marvels at his fancy house.
“How did you afford all this?” he asks.
The indonesian points to a fancy 8-lane superhigway. “See that?” he says. “10% - for me!”
The Indonesian eventually visits the Nigerian in his fancy house near Lagos.
“How did you afford all this?” he asks.
The Nigerian points across his lawn to a large patch of undeveloped bush. “See that 10-lane highway?” he says. “100% - mine!”

Basically, when you run the government, you have the opportunity to collect all sorts of “facilitating fees” to your private accounts. Every sale, contract, any money flowing by, the powers that be and their cronies can dip in and take a percentage. It’s the same principle at work in Wall street - you have no choice, all business must pass by the people who have the pwer to approve or disapprove, and they take their cut.

How greedy they are vs. how open to new ventures, plus how reliable deals are versus how likey the that the business once established might be shaken down for further unforseen payments - that determines whether outsiders are eager to do business or shy away because of poor profits for themselves. It seems Egypt was middle of the road in this regard. There is a minor amount of industry but nobody was falling over themselves to start new ventures there.

A little out-dated, but the son has many friends in the upper echelons of Egyptian business: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/egypt/gamal-mubarak.htm
Or see this - http://www.khilafah.com/index.php/news-watch/middle-east/11209-egypts-ire-turns-to-confidant-of-mubaraks-son

While technically correct on $3 billion/year, total government receipts in the United States are upward of $2 trillion a year. 85% of that comes from individual tax payers.

Egypt is a poor country in comparison to the United States, however it has a population of almost 80 million and a GDP of almost 500 billion. Remember that GDP is a measure of the value of all goods and services produced in a given time span (typically one year), the value of goods produced in Egypt over the last 30 years dwarfs the $70 bn figure.

I can’t find any quick figures on Egypt’s budget, but I believe they have received $2 bn a year from us in foreign aid for 30+ years. I’ve also read that while that is a “big number”, it actually only represents a small source of the funding that Egypt’s government needs to keep running. I actually read that in an article discussing how our Foreign Aid, while important, isn’t nearly the ace in the hole for Egypt as it is often portrayed. They could definitely do without it.

So to put it in context, it wouldn’t be hard at all for someone to skim $70 billion from an entire country over a long period of time. Of course, evidence suggests that is an enormously inflated number, and Mubarak’s personal fortune is probably less than $5bn.