Britain says Egypt seeks ex-officials' assets freeze

14th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain has received a request from Egypt to freeze the assets of several former officials, and EU finance ministers will discuss the issue in Brussels on Monday, foreign minister William Hague said.

Hague also said that Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq had told him that opposition figures will be included in a reshuffled cabinet within the next week following the toppling of president Hosni Mubarak.

"We have... received a request from the Egyptian government to freeze the assets of several former Egyptian officials," Hague told parliament.

"We will of course cooperate with this request, working with EU and international partners as we have done in the case of Tunisia."

The foreign secretary added: "If there is any evidence of illegality or misuse of state assets we will take firm and prompt action."

He did not specifically mention Mubarak, who stepped down last Friday.

The head of the eurozone area, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, said earlier Monday he favoured a freeze on assets held by Mubarak on the continent.

"My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister George Osborne) will discuss economic support and possible freezing measures relating to assets with EU finance ministers tonight and tomorrow in Brussels," Hague said.

Britain's government has been under growing pressure to freeze funds belonging to Mubarak and his entourage amid reports that they stashed millions of pounds in accounts in Britain and elsewhere.

London had earlier insisted that it needed a request from Cairo to act, and also that any freeze should be part of an international framework such as the European Union.

Hague said he had spoken to Shafiq, the Egyptian prime minister, to discuss the situation in the country, where the military have suspended the constitution and dissolved parliament ahead of fresh elections in six months.

"I was pleased to hear that members of the opposition will be included within the reshuffled cabinet within the next week," Hague said.

© 2011 AFP

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