Calls to freeze Mubarak's assets


The Government has been urged to act on assets held by Hosni Mubarak

The Government is facing calls to freeze assets held in Britain belonging to ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Ministers said that they would need a formal request from the Egyptian authorities before they could move against Mr Mubarak’s funds or property in the UK.

However the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) indicated it was monitoring the situation while Business Secretary Vince Cable warned the Government could take action against any British bank found to have improperly helped him shield his wealth.

The former president is reputed to have amassed a fortune worth billions of pounds during his 30 years in office, with funds in British and Swiss banks and properties in London, New York and Los Angeles.

Many Egyptians believe he and his family accumulated vast sums in kick-backs from military deals and government privatisations and there were repeated calls from demonstrators demanding “Give us our money back”.

The Swiss authorities have already frozen assets possibly belonging to Mr Mubarak or his associates. Lord Malloch-Brown, a former foreign office minister and former deputy general secretary of the United Nations, urged Britain to follow suit.

“I think it would be a very prudent thing to do to freeze suspicious accounts here because it will take a new government quite a while to mount some kind of legal claim on them,” he told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show.

“It would be a real pity if, when they did, the money had gone. I think it would be great for the reputation for the City of London if those accounts were frozen now.”

Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said that so far the Government had not received any request from the Egyptians.

Mr Cable said that he would prefer to see “concerted international action”, arguing that there was “no point in one government acting in isolation”.

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