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Recovering stolen assets: Experts in Indonesia discuss international best practices

Jakarta (Indonesia), 9 May 2011 - On 28 April 2011, UNODC organized a roundtable discussion on stolen asset recovery in Jakarta. Chaired by Mr. Febrian Ruddyard, Director for International Security and Disarmament of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the goal of the meeting was to discuss stolen asset recovery issues among law enforcement officials and representatives in Indonesia, particularly in terms of obstacles, measures and strategic steps required to establish a mechanism to proceed with asset recovery issues based on international best practice. The discussions also deliberated on the readiness of Indonesia's legal system and its capacity to address stolen asset recovery issues.

Participants started the meeting by acknowledging that effective stolen asset recovery requires coordination between domestic agencies and ministries within the country, and cooperation between multiple jurisdictions, legal systems and procedures. They also determined that for law enforcement officials to be able to "follow the money" beyond national borders and act in a timely manner to avoid the dissemination of the assets, officers require capacity in special investigative techniques.

During the course of the meeting, roundtable participants proposed alternative approaches to address the issue of asset recovery in Indonesia, namely non-conviction based asset recovery and bankruptcy. Mr. Harry Ponto, an Indonesian lawyer said: "There is a possibility to use the bankruptcy law to recover asset, both located in the country and overseas. It allows the prosecutor to request the bankruptcy claim, providing legal options to ensure automatic confiscation of funds from the offender."

During the discussion, Mr. Akhmad Wiyagus, Adjunct Commissioner of the Indonesian National Police, highlighted the importance of support from the media. He said that: "In many cases, it is imperative for journalist to understand the law and legal system and also to cooperate with law enforcement by not publishing the on-going investigation in order to limit information that may aid a suspect in their concealment efforts." Mr. Chandra Hamzah, Commissioner of Corruption Eradication Commission, added that "in order to recover the stolen asset from corruptors, attempts to trace such asset must be initiated very early in the investigation phase."

Recommendations were made by participants at the end of the discussion. It was noted that the establishment of a task force, to concentrate on asset tracing and recovery within Indonesian National Police and Attorney General's Office, was needed. Furthermore, that it is essential to improve the investigative capacity of current law enforcement officers.

Present at the discussion were representatives from the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, the Supreme Court, the Indonesian National Police, the Attorney General's Office, the Corruption Eradication Commission, the Indonesian Financial Intelligence Unit as well as representatives from Indonesian law firms, non-governmental organizations, universities and the media.