* Any assets of Mubarak, associates frozen immediately
* Freeze applies for three years - foreign ministry
(Adds details, background)
By Catherine Bosley and Oliver Hirt
ZURICH, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Switzerland has frozen assets that may belong to Hosni Mubarak, who stepped down as president of Egypt on Friday after 30 years of rule, the foreign ministry said.
“I can confirm that Switzerland has frozen possible assets of the former Egyptian president with immediate effect,” spokesman Lars Knuchel said soon after Mubarak bowed to 18 days of mass protests. “As a result of this measure any assets are frozen for three years.”
He did not say how much money was involved or where it was.
Assets belonging to Mubarak’s associates would also be targeted so as to limit the chance of state funds being plundered, the ministry said. Mubarak and his associates would be prevented from selling or otherwise disposing of property, notably real estate.
In recent years, Switzerland has worked hard to improve its image as a haven for ill-gotten assets.
It has also frozen assets belonging to Tunisia’s former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, ousted by popular protests last month, and Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to step down after an election which the outside world says he lost. [ID:nLDE70I1FE]
Editing by Mark Trevelyan