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Exclusive: UK upgrades assistance to Egypt over asset recovery

Britain to send financial expert to Egypt to help find assets stolen by members of Mubarak regime

Amer Sultan in London , Monday 3 Sep 2012
UK upgrades assistance to Egypt over asset recovery
Ousted Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak attends a meeting with South Africa's President Jacob Zuma at the presidential palace in Cairo October 19, 2010.(Photo:Reuters)
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The UK government is planning to send an expert to Egypt to help recover the Mubarak regime's frozen assets, Ahram Online can reveal.  

London is finalising the secondment plan in co-ordination with Egyptian authorities, a well-placed British source told Ahram Online.

"The seconded person is a legal expert who has huge experience in asset recovery," the source confirmed.

The UK asset recovery expert will reside in Cairo and work closely with Egyptian authorities on filing information and evidence and completing forms, Ahram Online understands.

It is unclear which country will pay for the secondment. The UK Foreign Office has refused to provide details.

However, a spokesman at the foreign office said cooperation between London and Cairo was getting closer.

"Within the last few months, cooperation with Egyptian police has been very good," he told Ahram Online.

"We completely understand the importance and urgency of money recovery for Egypt and the Egyptian people," he added.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague told Ahram Online a few months ago that the repatriation of stolen money was needed to support Egypt's economic recovery.

However, the spokesman reiterated that the only way for Egypt to repatriate the frozen money is to follow British legal procedures.

The Asset Frozen Unit (AFU) at the UK Treasury (finance ministry)  has over the last 18 month frozen £85 million ($133m) worth of assets, bank accounts and properties owned by Egypt's ousted president Hosni Mubarak, his family and other figures connected to his toppled regime.

Egyptian authorities believe the assets were acquired illegally. 

Some Egyptian politicians and media figures accuse the UK government of not doing enough to freeze the assets of Mubarak regime figures in the UK or return frozen money to Egypt.

Egypt's government is currently pursuing legal action against the UK Treasury for its reluctance to cooperate with Egypt.

London says it needs specific information and evidence to freeze any assets.

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