International Expert Meeting on the Management and Disposal of Recovered and Returned Stolen Assets, including in support of sustainable development 

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 14-16 February 2017

The international community has recognized the damaging effects of corruption on economic and social development in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Target 16.4 of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 requires States by 2030, to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery andreturn of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda encourages the international community to develop good practices on asset return. Chapter V of the United Nations Convention against. Corruption (UNCAC) establishes the recovery and return of the proceeds of corruption as a “fundamental principle” of the Convention and stipulates that States parties shall afford one another the widest measure of cooperation and assistance in that regard.

In order to link the two agendas and constituencies, the meeting brought together asset recovery experts and development practitioners from around the world to explore the different approaches which have been applied by countries in the management of recovered assets and to examine how returned assets could be utilized to achieve the SDGs and the Addis Agenda.

Agenda

Concept Note

Report

List of Participants

Agreements and Memorandum of Understanding

 

Event details and presentations

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Setting the stage

Welcoming remarks by the Host, Wedo Atto, Deputy Commissioner of the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission of Ethiopia
Remarks by Representative of the Swiss Government, Ambassador Andrea Semadeni
Remarks by UNODC, Brigitte Strobel-Shaw, Chief of Conference Support Section, UNODC
Tour de Table

Facilitators/Rapporteurs: Simona Schreier (UNODC); Elsa Gopala Krishnan (StAR)

Bringing together two constituencies - Part 1
Current state of the international debate on the management of recovered and returned assets at the international level

The session was aimed at providing an opportunity for dialogue between asset recovery experts, development practitioners and specifically participants with a background on financing for development. In two parts, participants elaborated on past work streams and practical and policy agendas moving forward.

In part one of the session panellists discussed the current state of policy considerations on the management of returned assets and key issues and trends, also with regard to the intergovernmental processes in the context of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption. In particular, the panellists briefed the meeting about the outcomes of an international workshop entitled ‘Returning Stolen Assets’, held in Küsnacht, Switzerland in October 2013; and the Expert Group Meeting on the Management, Use and Disposal of Frozen, Seized and Confiscated Assets, held in Calabria, Italy in April 2014, as well as other international fora which placed asset recovery high on the agenda, such as the Anti- Corruption Summit held in London in 2016 and the work of the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group.

Moderator: Salome Steib (Switzerland)

Panellists: Phil Mason (UK); Andrey Onufrienko (Russian Federation); Shervin Majlessi (UNODC/StAR); Hermione Cronje (StAR); Gretta Fenner (ICAR)
Facilitators/Rapporteurs: Simona Schreier (UNODC); Elsa Gopala Krishnan (StAR)

Presentations:
Phil Mason, Asset Return and Development - Current state of the international debate
Hermione Cronje, Compilation on the management and disposal of seized and confiscated assets
Gretta Fenner, Decision making processes on asset return
Andrey Onufrienko, Topical issues of international cooperation on recovery of corrupt assets from abroad
Shervin Majlessi, Global update & Emerging Issues in asset recovery, return and management

Bringing together two constituencies - Part 2
Relevance of Asset Return to implementing the SDG’s

Part 2 of the session placed the debate on recovered and returned assets in the wider development context. Panellists briefed participants on the relevance of asset return to the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. The session discussed how SDG 16.4 can be translated into practice and what it means in terms of the management of seized and recovered assets.

Moderator: Belachew Gutulo (Ethiopia)
Panellists: Peter Chowla (UNDESA Financing for Development Office); Mohamed Omar Gad (Egypt); Marianne Loe (Norway); H.E. Eugenio Maria Curia (Argentina)
Facilitators/Rapporteurs: Salome Steib (Switzerland); Shervin Majlessi (StAR)

Presentations:
Peter Chowla, Brief intro to the Financing for Development follow-up process

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Management of seized and confiscated assets pending return

The particular focus of this session was on the management, disposal/return of moveable (non-monetary) assets, as well as of real estate and corporate assets. Another aspect for consideration in this session was the recovery of costs of asset management, and interests and profits derived from the management of seized and confiscated assets.

Moderator: Jean-Michel Verelst (Belgium)
Panellists: Lucio Alves Angelo Junior (Brazil); Anatole Yezhov (Ukraine); Francesco Puleio and Giovanni Tartaglia (Italy); Engels Jiménez (Costa Rica)
Facilitators/Rapporteurs: Elsa Gopala Krishnan (StAR) ; Shervin Majlessi (StAR)

Presentations:
Jean-Michel Verelst, Central Office for Seizure and Confiscation in Belgium – A multidisciplinary approach in a one-office setting
Francesco Puleio and Giovanni Tartaglia, Italian Experience and Framework on Asset Recovery in Fighting and Cracking Down Organized Crime and Corruption
Francesco Puleio, La experiencia italiana en materia de investigación sobre el crimen organizado Incautación y Confiscación en la ley italiana
Engels Jiménez Padilla, Investigación Patrimonial y administración de bienes. Bienes incautados y comisados entregados a la URA
Lucio Alves Angelo Junior, Facing legal battles abroad to combat corruption
Anatole Yezhov, Management of seized and confiscated assets pending return - Ukrainian experience practice

Practical modalities for the return and disposal of assets - Part 1
Case-specific agreements or mutually acceptable arrangements for the final disposal of confiscated property, Art. 57 V UNCAC

In three parts, this session discussed modalities used to facilitate the return of assets to the countries of origin, taking into account past experiences. The session considered what systems of accountability and transparency could facilitate the return of embezzled funds to the country of origin, both from the perspectives of the requesting and the requested States. It further explored the use of settlements and their implications on the recovery and return of stolen assets.

Part one of the session looked at past case-specific agreements and arrangements for asset recovery. Specific topics for consideration were the rationale and the content of such agreements, particularly based on examples of existing agreements and their execution.

Moderator: H.E. Eugenio Maria Curia (Argentina)
Panellists: Stephen Campbell (US); Ibrahim Magu (Nigeria); Thelma Aldana (Guatemala); Daniela Hänggi (Switzerland)
Facilitators/Rapporteurs: Gretta Fenner (ICAR) ; Shervin Majlessi (StAR)

Presentations:
Thelma Esperanza Aldana Hernández, Practical modalities for the return and disposal of assets - Part 1 (English)
Thelma Esperanza Aldana Hernández, Practical modalities for the return and disposal of assets - Part 1 (Spanish)
Ibrahim M. Magu, Case specific agreements and mutually defined solutions for final disposal of confiscated assets
Daniela Hänggi, Switzerland’s Experience in Case-specific agreements and mutually defined solutions for the final disposal of confiscated property, Art. 57 V UNCAC

Practical modalities for the return and disposal of assets - Part 2
Accountability and transparency in the management of returned assets

Part 2 of the session considered systems of accountability and transparency which would facilitate the return of embezzled funds, particularly when returned assets were being channelled back into the general state budget of the country from which they were stolen. These could include “enhanced” country systems building on existing systems and mechanisms with additional control systems to ensure enhanced accountability and transparency. The possibility of creating autonomous funds and similar arrangements with distinct governance structures were also considered. A further issue for discussion during this session was the role of state and non-state actors in the management and disposal of returned assets.

Moderator: H.E. Abubakar Malami (Nigeria)
Panellists: Hans-Jürgen Gruss (Independent expert); Maris Urbans (Latvia), Cecilia Garcia Diaz (Peru)
Facilitators/Rapporteurs: Gretta Fenner (ICAR) ; Shervin Majlessi (StAR)

Presentations:
Hans-Jürgen Gruss, Part 2: Accountability and transparency in the management of returned assets
Cecilia Garcia Diaz, Comisión nacional de bienes incautados

Practical modalities for the return and disposal of assets - Part 3
Use of settlements and their implications on the recovery and return of stolen assets

The purpose of this session was to discuss existing practices in involving affected countries in settlements and other alternative legal mechanisms. Specific points of consideration of this session was the impact these practices had by using funds received as a result of settlements for the compensation of victims.

Moderator: Hans-Jürgen Gruss (Independent expert)
Panellists: Kimani Muthoni (Kenya); Stephen Campbell (US); Simon Maembe and Christopher Misigwa (Tanzania) ; Aaron Bornstein (Independent expert); Elsa Gopala Krishnan (StAR)
Facilitators/Rapporteurs: Shervin Majlessi (StAR); Simona Schreier (UNODC)

Presentations:
Elsa Gopala Krishnan, Use of settlements - StAR study and follow‐up
Aaron Bornstein, The BOTA foundation: the first foundation in the world established to assist victims of corruption - What did it do?
Kimani Muthoni, Use of Settlements and their Implications on the Recovery and Return of Stolen Assets

Use of returned assets to compensate victims and support the sustainable development goals and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda?

This session considered the development aspects of asset recovery and specifically how returned assets can contribute to supporting the Sustainable Development Goals and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. It furthermore considered measures to identify and compensate victims. The session further discussed the role that national sustainable development strategies and national development agencies can play in support of the asset recovery agenda; and at what stage of the process the line ministries involved in the discussions on return will need to include not only the ministries of justice, but also other ministries.

Moderator: Phil Mason (UK)

Panellists: Nicole Ruder (Switzerland); Rodrigo Garza (Mexico); Angela Ponce (Philippines); Bolaji Owasanoye (Nigeria); Wellington Cabral Saravia (Brazil)
Facilitators/Rapporteurs: Salome Steib (Switzerland) ; Elsa Gopala Krishnan (StAR); Simona Schreier (UNODC)

Presentations:
Rodrigo Garza, Use of Returned Assets to Compensate Victims & Support the SDGs & the AAAA - Asset Management and Disposal Service
Bolaji Owasanoye, Use of Returned Assets to Compensate Victims and Support SDG Goals and Addis Ababa Action Agenda: A Perspective from Nigeria
Wellington Cabral Saravia, International Expert Meeting on the Management and Disposal of Recovered and Returned Stolen Assets, Including in Support of Sustainable Development

Angela Ponce - Statement from Philippines

Thursday 16 February 2017

Towards good practices for the management and return of stolen assets - Breakout sessions

In three breakout sessions the experts reviewed the panel presentations and discussions of the previous days and focused on identifying current practices and approaches with a view to determining emerging good practice.

Moderator: Brigitte Strobel-Shaw (UNODC)

Moderators for breakout sessions: Shervin Majlessi (StAR)/Salome Steib (Switzerland); Phil Mason (UK), Eugenio Curia (Argentina) and Mohamed Habib (Egypt); and Akinremi Bolaji (Nigeria) and Gretta Fenner (ICAR)

Towards good practices for the management and return of stolen assets - report back to the Expert Group from the breakout sessions

Report back to the Expert Group from the breakout sessions and deliberations on which of the identified practices and approaches could constitute good practices for the management and return of stolen assets in support of sustainable development.

Moderators: Brigitte Strobel-Shaw (UNODC)
Facilitators/Rapporteurs: Salome Steib (Switzerland); Elsa Gopala Krishnan (StAR); Simona Schreier (UNODC)

Conclusions and the way forward

While providing a forum for summarizing the discussions during the past days, the session is meant to take stock of areas that require further knowledge and capacity building and make proposals for next steps, which could be taken further in another international expert meeting. Furthermore, the meeting will discuss in what way the outcomes of the meeting are intended to feed into the Forum on Financing for Development to be held in May 2017, as well as the Working Group on Asset Recovery scheduled for August 2017 and the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption in November 2017.

Moderator: Brigitte Strobel-Shaw (UNODC)
Panellists: The moderators of sessions 2 to 5 each provided a summing up of their sessions with salient points.
Facilitators/Rapporteurs: Salome Steib (Switzerland); Brigitte Strobel-Shaw (UNODC)

Background documents