The Egyptian public investigator who led efforts to hunt down property belonging to the regime of toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak has accused Britain of being "one of the worst" countries for housing assets.
In a BBC investigation aired on Monday, Mohamed Mahsoob said Britain and Egypt had frustrated attempts to seize the British assets of the fallen regime.
"The UK is one of the worst countries when it comes to tracing and freezing Egyptian assets," said Mahsoob, who was recently appointed to the new cabinet.
"This is a collective crime from both the British and Egyptian governments. The British are saying that they need official requests from Egypt before they take any action and that until this happens they are allowing the free movement of assets and the closure of certain accounts of companies beyond UK borders."
Britain's Foreign Office maintained it was helping Egypt, but it was not possible to "deprive a person of their assets and return them to an overseas country in the absence of a criminal conviction and confiscation order". Shortly after Mubarak's downfall, Egypt's interim government called on the West to freeze the assets of several former regime members who were suspected of siphoning public money.
The BBC investigation found that Britain took 37 days to begin carrying out the request, in contrast to Switzerland, which began freezing assets in 30 minutes.