Regional meeting on the development of Fast Action Response Guides (FARGs) on asset recovery

9-11 August 2022, Zagreb, Croatia: Representatives of public prosecution offices, law enforcement, and ministries of justice from South-Eastern Europe, together with experts from UNODC, gathered to discuss the potential approaches to the development of Fast Action Response Guides (FARGs) on asset recovery processes.

The event aimed to initiate the development of FARGs and to support, at the operational level, continuous capacity building on the different elements of the asset recovery process. FARGs should provide the relevant national authorities with a simple tool that will enable them to quickly have an overview of the legal and operational elements that need to be considered to conduct criminal and parallel financial investigations. This concept goes beyond that of a simple checklist - FARGs should enable the relevant authorities to more efficiently identify the practical options available to them upon detection of an offence and to determine the appropriate actions, resources and tools needed to conduct the investigations.

The interactive three-day event allowed the representatives of South-Eastern European jurisdictions to discuss how the asset recovery process is regulated, what results have been achieved so far, and the key challenges to improving this process in the future. Through the identification of challenges and obstacles, the structure and the content of FARGs were discussed to develop a document that should respond to these challenges and make the asset recovery process more efficient and effective.

The event raised a discussion on cooperation and coordination between competent national bodies included in the asset recovery, data availability and exchange in the investigation phase, involvement of financial investigators in the criminal process, the relation between financial and criminal investigations and other relevant issues that will be targeted through the FARGs. Furthermore, the event confirmed the need for further exchange of experiences and good practices among jurisdictions and the improvement of regional cooperation. In that regard, the event also provided an opportunity to inform the participants about the new developments of the GlobE Network and in particular related to the launch of the secure communication solution for the exchange of information and to present the work of the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (STAR), a partnership between the World Bank Group and UNODC that supports international efforts to end safe havens for assets acquired through corruption.

The meeting was organized within the project “From Illicit Financial Flows to Asset Recovery” under the UNODC Regional Programme for South-Eastern Europe and with the generous support of the UK Government.

This activity contributes to SDG 16, particularly Target 16.4, to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets, and combat all forms of organized crime.