Egypt's former finance minister, Youssef Boutros-Ghali, is living openly in London despite being convicted of corruption and profiteering in his home country, The Independent on Sunday has learnt. MPs want to know why, despite being the subject of an Interpol "red notice", he is being allowed to remain in the UK.
Earlier this month, Mr Boutros-Ghali, the nephew of the former UN secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali, was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in jail for corruption, profiteering and abusing state and private assets. The court also ordered him to repay 60 million Egyptian pounds (£6.1m).
He left the country and was convicted in absentia. It is believed he flew to Lebanon and then on to London, where he has been seen several times. The Shadow Justice Minister, Andy Slaughter, is asking the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, why Mr Boutros-Ghali is being allowed to remain, despite the fact that the Egyptian judiciary want him returned. He is believed to be one of dozens of former Egyptian officials and businessmen living in London who are wanted by the new interim government in Cairo.
The MP cited efforts made by the Egyptian authorities to locate and extradite Mr Boutros-Ghali, 58. Egypt's Interpol chief, Magdy Shafei, told local journalists that Mr Boutros-Ghali had been "followed since he fled Egypt after the January revolution. According to his file, he's currently in London." Mr Shafei claimed the UK is considered a "safe place" for fugitives due to the absence of an extradition agreement with Egypt.
Mr Slaughter says he was contacted by expatriate Egyptians living in his constituency who were furious that Mr Boutros-Ghali had been seen "wandering around London with impunity". He told The IoS: "This country once had a reputation for upholding international law, not as a refuge for criminals and fraudsters. We are also letting down and neglecting our duty to the liberated people of Egypt who want our help in bringing their oppressors to justice.
"The British government cannot claim to be on the side of pro-democracy protesters ... while simultaneously providing financial and physical shelter to former [eg, Mubarak] regime members accused of fraud, theft and/or human rights abuses."
An Interpol "red notice", which seeks information about a suspect, was issued after he left Egypt, but he cannot be arrested by British police until Egypt issues an international arrest warrant. Scotland Yard declined to comment on the situation yesterday. Although no formal extradition treaty exists between the UK and Egypt, Mr Boutros-Ghali could be returned if the Home Secretary, Theresa May, considered the country qualified for "special extradition arrangements".
The Government is keen to emphasise its support for the "new democracies" of the Middle East, including their attempts to bring former rulers to justice. The Foreign Office said: "The UK is committed to working with the Egyptian authorities on a range of issues. In March, EU ministers agreed to freeze the assets of individuals identified by the Egyptian authorities as being responsible for the misappropriation of state funds. The UK has implemented the EU freeze robustly."
Mr Boutros-Ghali could not be contacted for comment.