Government under pressure to freeze Mubarak's assets

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Indy Politics

The Government was today under pressure to freeze any assets of ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak held in the UK.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said that there was a need for "concerted international action" to tackle the issue.



He warned that the Government would act against any British bank that was involved in helping Mr Mubarak improperly move funds in order to protect his private wealth.



The former president is reported to have amassed a family fortune worth billions of dollars held in British and Swiss banks and tied up in property in London, New York and Los Angeles.



The Swiss authorities have already announced that they are freezing his assets held in their country, and former foreign office minister Lord Malloch-Brown urged the UK 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."



Mr Cable suggested that there was a need for an international approach, rather than the UK acting alone.



"I wasn't aware that he had enormous assets here but there clearly needs to be concerted international action on this," he told The Andrew Marr Show.



"There is no point in one government acting in isolation but certainly we need to look at it. It depends also whether his funds were illegally obtained or improperly obtained."



He said that the Government would take action against any British bank which was found to have acted improperly helping Mr Mubarak to move funds during his final days in office in order to shield them from any claim by the new administration.



"I would be concerned if the banks had been engaged in anything improper," he said.



"One of the things we have done since this government got in is actually stopping the banks engaging in large-scale tax avoidance on behalf of their corporate and private customers.



"So the logic of that is the we would be concerned and would act if there was anything improper that had occurred."



The director of the Serious Fraud Office, Richard Alderman, indicated that they were already tracking the assets of Mr Mubarak and the deposed Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.



"The public would expect us to be looking for some of this money if we became aware of it, and to try to repatriate it for the benefit of the people of those countries," he told The Sunday Times.

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