North Macedonia: Fast Action Response on Asset Recovery for National Practitioners 

27 October 2023, Skopje, North Macedonia: To strengthen the asset recovery capacities of the relevant authorities from North Macedonia, UNODC has supported the development of Fast Action Response Guide (FARG) on asset recovery. The guide provides 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.

The developed guide will enable the relevant practitioners to identify more efficiently the practical options available to them upon detection of an offense and to determine the appropriate actions, resources, and tools needed to conduct the investigations and recover the proceeds of crime. The guide is focused on the specific legal, regulatory, and operational needs required to effectively seize assets with a view to their future confiscation. To that end, the guide outlines the steps that will need to be taken at the operational level, cross-referencing it with the relevant legal and regulatory provisions.

The asset recovery process is complex, resource-intensive, and time-consuming work for specialized practitioners. 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.

H.E. Ms. Slavica Grkovska, Deputy Prime Minister for Good Governance of North Macedonia, opened the meeting and emphasized the importance of strengthening inter-institutional cooperation, and exchange of financial and other information during the entire cycle of investigation, detection, tracing, and confiscation of proceeds of crime. “It is necessary for investigative authorities to establish an effective system for the exchange of financial and other information during the entire cycle of detection and confiscation of property. That flow of information must be coordinated and following existing domestic laws, policies, and procedures," Ms. Grkovska added.

This activity was conducted as a part of the national “Strategy for strengthening the capacities for conducting financial investigation and asset recovery 2021-2023”, which implementation is coordinated by the Cabinet of the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Good Governance Policies, through the National Commission in charge of monitoring the implementation of the Strategy, with the support of UNODC.

The guide was developed 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.