EU plans to adopt Egypt asset freezes next week


The European Union plans to adopt sanctions against former Egyptian officials accused of stashing billions of dollars abroad next week, says an EU official.

Egypt asked the United States and European Union to freeze the assets of several former officials last month after street protests ended the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak.

EU and US officials said Mubarak’s name was not on the initial Egyptian list, but Egypt’s public prosecutor’s office has since ordered the freezing of assets of the former president and his family after complaints they acquired wealth illegally, reuters reports.
“The objective is that the asset freeze can be adopted at the foreign ministers’ meeting on Monday,” an EU official said, referring to a meeting involving the 27 EU states in Brussels.

An EU spokeswoman said officials were working to enable a decision soon.

EU officials said last month that EU working groups and heads of mission in Egypt had been asked to look into the Egyptian request. .

British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the British parliament on Tuesday that Britain had yet to freeze the assets of former Egyptian officials as requested by Egypt on February 14, but was working towards this at the EU level.
“One of the difficulties in pursuing this to the necessary point of freezing the actual assets is the lack of information that has been supplied by the Egyptian authorities,” he said.
“We have urged progress within the European Union so that this is done on a European Union basis and that means that the decisive action remains to be taken.”

Hague suggested there had been hold-ups both on the Egyptian and the EU sides.

Asked if information provided by the Egyptian authorities was inadequate or if other members of the EU were dragging their feet, he said: “Well, both of those to some degree.”

Mubarak and other senior officials are suspected of having sent billions of dollars of assets abroad. Opponents have called for the money to be sent back to Egypt to help alleviate poverty.

On February 21 the Swiss government said it had seized “several dozens of millions” of francs held in Swiss banks by Mubarak and his entourage .