Vast Mubarak wealth secreted away


ASSETS:FORMER PRESIDENT Hosni Mubarak diverted billions into secret bank accounts and properties, claimed to be in London, New York, Paris and Los Angeles. One estimate in the Guardiannewspaper put the figure of his family’s theft at £43.5 billion (€51.4bn), with the president’s son, Gamal, amassing assets worth an estimated £10.5bn (€12.4bn), including a five-storey house in London’s Knightsbridge.

However, this wealth cannot be frozen until demands are made by Egypt, the European Union, or the United Nations, the British Serious Fraud Office has said.

So far, Switzerland has been the only country to impose a unilateral freeze on assets suspected to be controlled by Mr Mubarak and his family, while British minister Vince Cable has said an international approach needed to be taken on the issue.

“I was not aware that he had enormous assets here, but there clearly needs to be a concerted international action on this,” said the Liberal Democrat business secretary yesterday.

“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,” he said.

However, the head of the serious fraud office, Richard Alderman, said his officials have launched inquiries: “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.”

Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said Britain had not yet been asked to freeze assets held by Mr Mubarak, or his sons, Gamal and Alaa. “There are things that can be done, but so far there has not been a request,” he said.

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander, said: “Britain must be ready to act swiftly in response to any request received from the Egyptian or international authorities to freeze wrongly appropriated assets.

“At least 20 per cent of the Egyptian population lives below its poverty line of $2 [€1.50] a day. We should play our part in ensuring that any money which rightly belongs to the Egyptian people is returned to them.”

Mr Mubarak’s son, Gamal (47), set up an investment company called Medinvest in 1996 at Sloane Street, Belgravia, in London. He lived for a time in a six-storey house in Belgravia, which has, in the past, been the location for protests by Egyptians living in London. He resigned as a director of the company in 2001, though it has been alleged that the directors still have strong ties to him.