Britain agrees to return $44M to Macau seized from official in corruption case

Britain has agreed to return 28.7 million pounds ($44.3 million) to Macau that was confiscated from a government official convicted in the Chinese enclave's biggest corruption case.

According to a Macau government statement released Tuesday, British and Macau officials signed an agreement to repatriate the money seized in the Ao Man Long case.

Ao was a transport and public works secretary who was found guilty in three trials of taking bribes and money laundering: in 2008, 2009 and 2012.

He is the highest ranking official to ever be convicted of graft in the former Portuguese colony, which has been controlled by China since 1999.

The announcement comes as Macau works to clean up its image as a corrupt gambling haven. Casino revenues in Macau, an hour by ferry from Hong Kong, have tumbled for more than a year as Beijing's anti-graft crackdown keeps wealthy Chinese high rollers away.

Anti-graft officials have said they found Ao had $100 million in assets, or 57 times more than what he and his family could have earned during his time in office.

The government statement said Macau had already recovered a significant part of the money that Ao stashed abroad.

Macau authorities had earlier taken out an injunction to freeze Ao's assets in Britain and requested that they be returned.