LONDON: A British government minister said on Sunday there should be an international approach to dealing with the overseas assets of deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his family.
Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which investigates financial crime, has launched a hunt for cash and assets linked to Mubarak, the Sunday Times reported, without citing sources.
So far only Switzerland has announced a freeze on assets that might belong to Mubarak, who stood down on Friday after 30 years of rule.
British business minister Vince Cable said countries need to work together on Mubarak’s assets, reported to be worth at least millions of dollars and held secretly around the world.
Asked if Britain would follow Switzerland’s lead, Cable told BBC television: "I was not aware that he had enormous assets here, but there clearly 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," Cable added.
Britain could lock down any assets linked to Mubarak at the request of the European Union or United Nations, or if asked directly by Egypt, a government official said.
Egypt’s ambassador to London, Hatem Seif El Nasr, said he had no information about any of Mubarak’s assets. "Truly, about the money I have absolutely no knowledge," he told BBC TV.
Switzerland has also frozen assets belonging to Tunisia’s former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was ousted by a popular uprising last month. SFO head Richard Alderman, asked about reports that assets were secretly held in London by Mubarak and Ben Ali’s families, told the Sunday Times: "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 these countries." –Additional reporting by Matt Falloon