Returning stolen assets

Stuart Gilman17 January 2008 - "The return of assets (…) is a fundamental principle of this Convention, and States Parties shall afford one another the widest measure of cooperation and assistance in this regard."

These are the first words of the asset recovery chapter of the UN Convention against Corruption. Through this powerful statement, the Convention firmly established asset recovery - the return of stolen funds to their country of origin - as an international priority.

In order to assist countries in this process, UNODC and the World Bank have created the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative. Through technical and legal assistance, high-level political advocacy and the development of tools for public officials the initiative aims to return stolen assets to release funds for social programmes and infrastructure.

"We are focusing on recovering assets that are owed to developing countries," says Stuart Gilman, head of UNODC's Global Programme against Corruption. "However, we are also working with developed countries to make it easier to submit asset recovery claims."

While developing countries need to improve governance and accountability, developed nations should also stop providing a safe haven for stolen proceeds. In fact, another key aim of StAR is to send a strong signal that money obtained through corruption will not be safe anywhere.

"In this sense, the combination of UNODC and the World Bank ought to be deadly," Gilman says. "Together, we are making crooked money unsafe so that corrupt officials not only face jail but won't be able to keep their illicit profits." 

At the upcoming Second Session of the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption in Bali, a high-level segment will assess whether StAR is meeting the needs of developing countries and how the Conference can help in this regard.

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More information about and full text of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

Documents related to the Second Session of the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption.

More information about UNODC's work against corruption worldwide.

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