Roundtable Discussion on Asset Recovery Strengthens Efforts to Combat Corruption

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Manila (Philippines), 21 April 2023 -  A Roundtable Discussion on Asset Recovery was held in Manila on 21 April 2023, gathering high-level officials from various Philippine government agencies involved in combating corruption and recovering stolen assets. The event aimed to address the challenges posed by the theft of public assets in developing countries and explore opportunities to strengthen asset recovery efforts.

Representatives from key agencies, including the Anti-Money Laundering Council, Department of Justice, Office of the Ombudsman, Office of the Solicitor General, National Bureau of Investigations, Philippine National Police, and Securities and Exchange Commission, participated in the discussion. Their collective expertise played a vital role in asset identification, tracing, freezing, and seizure.

The discussions primarily revolved around the current regulatory framework in the Philippines. Each agency provided valuable insights into their mandates and procedures, shedding light on their roles in asset recovery. Notably, the roundtable placed particular emphasis on the second cycle of the UNCAC implementation review, focusing on asset recovery aspects. The participants engaged in constructive conversations, offering guidance to requesting States on the content of asset recovery requests and exploring measures for the return of recovered proceeds.

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During the discussion, participants identified several challenges impeding effective asset recovery in the Philippines. Of notable concern were the tight bank secrecy and data privacy laws, which hindered access to crucial financial information for investigations. In light of these obstacles, the following recommendations were proposed to enhance asset recovery efforts, including:  

i) Strengthen the enforcement and application of existing legislation and policies related to asset recovery through comprehensive training programs for law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and judges.
ii) Develop legislation or policy amendments that would enable government agencies involved in successful asset recovery to retain a portion of the recovered assets.
iii) Improve coordination and information-sharing mechanisms among relevant agencies involved in asset recovery by establishing clear protocols and procedures for cooperation.
iv) Consider the establishment of a specialized asset recovery unit within a law enforcement agency or an independent body dedicated to asset recovery.
v) Strengthen international cooperation by developing and maintaining robust partnerships with other countries, particularly those where stolen assets may be located.
vi) Enhance the financial intelligence capabilities of relevant agencies through comprehensive training programs.

The Roundtable Discussion on Asset Recovery marked a significant milestone in the Philippines' ongoing efforts to combat corruption and recover stolen assets. By fostering dialogue and collaboration among key stakeholders, the event laid the groundwork for enhanced coordination, improved practices, and a more robust regulatory framework in line with international standards. These collective efforts are expected to restore public trust, bolster the investment climate, and advance sustainable development in the country.

This event was conducted as part of a package of activities funded by the Kingdom of Denmark.

Other Useful Links:

  • A summary of a consultation with the Supreme Court in the Philippines held in Manila in December 2022 can be found here.
  • A description of an offshore financial investigations training held in the Philippines in November 2022 can be found here.
  • A summary of activities by the UNODC Anti-Corruption Team in Southeast Asia is publicly available via our website here.