Exclusive: UK opposition to intensify pressure on Cameron's government over Egyptian assets

Amer Sultan, Saturday 11 Aug 2012

Labour MP and state minister for justice in the shadow cabinet calls out to Egyptians for details that will help him pressure the UK government for transparency and quicker repatriation of funds

Labour MP Andy Slaughter, (Photo: Amer Sultan).

The opposition in the UK plans to put more pressure on the Cameron government to return the frozen assets to Egypt.

Andy Slaughter, the Labour MP and state minister for justice in the shadow cabinet, told Ahram Online he will posit a new question to the government in the House of Commons (Parliament) on the issue in early September.

He stepped up his criticism of the UK government for "the slow of procedures to repatriate frozen monies, which were frozen late March last year, to Egypt.

"The government did not even announce the names of [Egyptian] persons whose assets were frozen," Slaughter told Ahram Online.

He believes the settlement of the issue could take years unless there is continuous pressure on the UK government.

However, the senior MP complains he and other MPs do not have enough information to help push the UK's concerned departments to be more transparent on the issue.

The UK Treasury (finance ministry) has over the last year frozen £85 million ($133 million) worth of assets, bank accounts and properties linked to Egypt's ousted president Hosni Mubarak, his family and other figures connected to his regime.

Slaughter called on Egyptians in the UK and abroad to provide him with any information about any Egyptian ill-gotten monies in UK banks or other institutions.

"Such information will make my questions to the government in the House of Commons more challenging," he confirmed.

The UK Foreign Secretary William Hague told Ahram Online in May that his government is working closely with the Egyptian authorities on freezing and returning Egyptian assets that their courts have identified as stolen.

He added this is not only critical to ensure justice, but also to support Egypt’s economic recovery.

He reiterated, however, that any repatriation of assets would be subject to independent, domestic legal processes and UK policy is not to discuss the details of any individual asset cases in public.

In the last months, the UK shadow minister raised many times the issue of extraditing Youssef Boutros Ghali, the Egyptian former finance minister.

"I intend to [put on the] table a new question on Ghali to the government in the Commons," Slaughter declared.

Ghali fled Egypt during the peak of the Egyptian revolution in February 2011.

Egypt has repeatedly requested the UK government to extradite him to serve prison sentences he was given after convicting him of corruption.

According to national laws, the UK's home office can choose not to respond to the international Red Notice issued by the International Police Organisation (Interpol) to arrest and extradite Ghali to Egypt.

Slaughter argues that the UK's reluctance to extradite Ghali to Egypt contradicts with the British officials' public statements on helping Egypt fight corruption.

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