Coordination of asset recovery efforts in South-Eastern Europe

15 March, Podgorica, Montenegro; 17, March, Belgrade, Serbia; 24 March, Skopje, North Macedonia 2023: The asset recovery process is a complex, resource-intensive and time-consuming process. It requires permanent cooperation and coordination among the relevant national authorities (e.g., intelligence agencies, law enforcement authorities and prosecutors), as well as with their foreign counterparts. Efforts are often inhibited by, among others, the challenge of identifying the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, overcoming inconsistent or cumbersome legal requirements that may exist nationally or across borders, and the lack of coordination and cooperation locally and internationally. Many of these challenges can be mitigated with a consistent and harmonized approach at the national level with existing legislation and regulations.

To support the jurisdictions from South-Eastern Europe in mitigating these challenges, UNODC has initiated discussions with the authorities of Montenegro, Serbia and North Macedonia towards the development of Fast Action Response Guides (FARGs) on asset recovery processes. FARGs are intended to provide the relevant national authorities with a simple tool enabling 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 identify more efficiently 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 discussions took the form of meetings aimed to begin the development process and to support, at the operational level, continuous capacity building on the various elements of the asset recovery process.

The meetings were organized in the framework of the Regional Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance Roadmap under the UNODC Regional Programme for South-Eastern Europe and with the generous support of the UK Government.