UK to send prosecutor to Egypt for stolen funds investigation

United Kingdom Foreign Minister William Hague said he discussed with President Mohamed Morsy on Tuesday the issue of frozen assets belonging to members of Egypt’s ousted regime.

In a press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Kamel Amr at the presidential palace in Cairo, Hague said he agreed with Morsy to send a British prosecutor to assist the Egyptian public prosecutor’s office in its investigation of funds belonging to former regime figures.

Hague stressed that his country is eager to cooperate with Cairo in that respect. He said retrieving the funds is a complicated legal process, but promised that efforts would be made to quickly resolve the issue.

Hague added that the UK fulfilled its responsibility by freezing the assets, but noted, however, that those assets cannot be confiscated or repatriated based on suspicion alone, and that convictions are necessary.

Amr told the press that Britain is ready to cooperate on restoring frozen funds and handing over wanted figures.

An investigation by the BBC said that the British government has allowed 19 people who were accused of embezzlement under the former regime to keep financial assets and real estate.

The six-month investigation conducted by BBC Arabic, and first released by The Guardian newspaper and London-based Al-Hayat, found millions of pounds in unfrozen assets in violation of international sanctions. The assets include property in Knightsbridge and Chelsea, as well as companies registered in the UK. The British government says it has frozen roughly US$125 million of Egyptian funds.

Hague said that he is looking forward to working with President Mohamed Morsy and his Cabinet to support the political and economic transformation in Egypt and bolster trade between the two countries.

In a statement issued by the British foreign ministry on Tuesday, Hague said that Egypt has seen the most dramatic changes in its history over the past 18 months and added that he is happy to be in Egypt.

Amr said that talks between himself and Hague tackled the situation in Syria, and that he hoped for a meeting between the foreign ministers of Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran as part of the Egyptian initiative to solve the Syrian crisis.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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