Pressure on to freeze Mubarak's assets in UK

The British Government was under growing pressure last night to copy its Swiss counterpart and freeze any assets belonging to the Mubarak family following accusations that vast sums of money have been illicitly smuggled out of Egypt.

Anti-corruption campaigners have called on foreign governments to automatically seize any assets held in their countries by the former president Hosni Mubarak or his family until it can be ascertained whether they are legitimate or not.

Egyptian opposition groups allege that the Mubarak family, including his two sons Gamal and Ala'a, have been able to amass immense fortunes over the past 30 years through kickbacks and private deals. They fear large sums of Egypt's wealth are already hidden in overseas bank accounts and property, such as the house his son Gamal is reported to own in Belgravia.

The Business Secretary Vince Cable called yesterday for countries to work together on Mr Mubarak's assets. But Foreign Office officials admitted that assets would be seized only at the request of the EU, the UN or Egypt.

The British Government's approach is in direct contrast to the Swiss who, within hours of Mr Mubarak stepping down, ordered investigators to search for and freeze any assets owned by the former president, his family or his close associates. Asked if Britain would follow Switzerland's lead, Mr Cable told the BBC yesterday: "I was not aware that [Mr Mubarak] had enormous assets here, but there certainly needs to be a concerted international action on this. There is no point one government acting in isolation, but certainly we need to look at it. It depends also whether his funds are illegally or improperly obtained."

Last night the Serious Fraud Office played down reports that a full blown hunt for any illicit funds was already under way. But a spokesperson did confirm that the agency was taking "early steps ... to be ready to assist with tracing assets if called upon to do so".

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in