Discussing the draft Asset Recovery Law at the International Conference on Asset Recovery in Timor-Leste

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Dili (Timor-Leste), 22 November 2022 - Timor-Leste has made significant efforts to establish the legal tools and institutions required to combat corruption since ratifying the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2008. These efforts include penal code amendments, anti-money laundering, international judicial cooperation on criminal matters, and the recent passage of an anti-corruption law. Corruption, on the other hand, continues to be a threat to the country's development. Every year, there are more corruption cases involving high-level government officials, public officials, and private-sector employees, but recovering stolen assets and proceeds of crime remains difficult.

Timor-Leste lacks a comprehensive asset recovery policy, which is one of the legal tools required to ensure full compliance with UNCAC, particularly Chapter V on Asset Recovery. Furthermore, at the Regional Anti-Corruption Conference for Law Enforcement Professionals in Southeast Asia, held in Bangkok on August 29-31, 2022, governments and national authorities agreed that strengthening legal and institutional frameworks for the recovery of stolen assets is a top priority for the region. This agenda needs political will and the allocation of adequate financial and human resources to relevant national agencies.

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To assist Timor-Leste with its asset recovery efforts, UNODC and the Prosecutor-General’s Office co-organized an International Conference on Asset Recovery as an Efficient Instrument to Combat Corruption and Related Crimes, from 21-22 November 2022. The event brought together stakeholders from the government, National Parliament, judiciary, law enforcement agencies, academics, civil society organizations, and the private sector to discuss a draft asset recovery law titled “Creating the Asset Recovery Office and the Asset Administration Office” prepared by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Among other high-level speakers, the President of Timor-Leste opened the event, demonstrating the strong relevance the national authorities are giving to this issue.  In addition to national stakeholders, experts from the Attorney General Chambers of Malaysia, Singapore, the Public Prosecution Office of the Macao SAR, and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) of Indonesia were invited to share best practices and lessons learned on Asset Recovery efforts during the first day of the conference. The participants were then divided into eight working groups on the second day to discuss the legal proposal on asset recovery and present their recommendations based on best practices and lessons learned, Timor-Leste’s context and asset recovery principles outlined in the UNCAC.

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The event was part of initiatives funded by the Ministry of Justice of The Government of The Republic of Korea and was part of ongoing activities conducted by UNODC in the fight against fraud and corruption across Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Other Useful Links:

  • A written summary of a UNODC roundtable description to address asset recovery in Indonesia held online in October 2021 is available here
  • A description of a review of Thailand’s implementation of the UNCAC chapters on Preventative Measures and Asset Recovery held in Bangkok in September 2018 can be found here
  • A summary of activities by the UNODC Anti-Corruption Team in Southeast Asia is publicly available via our website here