"Developing countries lose between US$20 to US$40 billion each year through bribery, misappropriation of funds, and other corrupt practices. Much of the proceeds of corruption find "safe haven" in the world's financial centers. These criminal flows are a drain on social services and economic development programs, contributing to the further impoverishment of the world's poorest countries. The victims include children in need of education, patients in need of treatment, and all members of society who contribute their fair share and deserve assurance that public funds are being used to improve their lives."
- Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC and Ngozi N. Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director of the World bank, Preface to Asset Recovery Handbook
The process of tracing, freezing, confiscating and returning the stolen assets to their country of origin is usually a complex and lengthy one, involving multiple jurisdictions and often complicated by technical, legal or political barriers.
Recognizing the serious problem of corruption and the need for improved mechanisms to combat its devastating impact and facilitate the recovery of corruption proceeds, the international community introduced a new framework in the United Nations Convention against Corruption. Chapter V of the convention provides this framework for the return of stolen assets, requiring states parties to take measures to restrain, seize, confiscate, and return the proceeds of corruption.As per the Convention's Chapter V, Article 51:
The return of assets pursuant to this chapter is a fundamental principle of this Convention, and States Parties shall afford one another the widest measure of cooperation and assistance in this regard.
Asset recovery remains high on the global agenda and in addition to continued attention of the General Assembly of the United Nations, it was included in the Sustainable Development Goals under Goal 16.4 and in the commitments under the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development. Further, the launch in 2016 of the second cycle of the Implementation Review Mechanism for the Corruption and its coverage of asset recovery is expected to contribute to stepped up attention to asset recovery.
With a view to advancing the work on strengthening the recovery and return of stolen assets as included in Target 16.4, and in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda which encourages the international community to develop good practices on asset return, as well as in line with Resolution 6/3 of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption on "Fostering effective asset recovery" which encourages States parties and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to to identify good practices as necessary that address the administration of seized and confiscated assets, including with a view to contributing to sustainable development, UNODC supported jointly by Ethiopia and Switzerland, started a process to identify good practices on the management and disposal of recovered and returned stolen assets in support of sustainable development. The first expert group meeting under this initiative was held in Addis Ababa in February 2017, and brought together for the first time different constituencies working on asset recovery and return ...Read more»
At its fifth session the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption adopted resolution 5/3 on "Facilitating international cooperation in asset recovery" which, inter alia, "encourages States parties and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to share experience on the management, use and disposal of frozen, seized and confiscated assets, and to identify best practices as necessary, building upon existing resources that address the administration of seized assets, and to consider developing non-binding guidelines on this issue". Read more»
The Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative was launched in September 2007 by the World Bank and the United Nations Offi ce on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to promote the ratification and implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and specifically its Chapter V, which provides the first comprehensive framework for asset recovery. This innovative partnership supports international efforts to end safe havens for corrupt funds. StAR works with developing countries and financial centers to prevent the laundering of the proceeds of corruption and to facilitate more systematic and timely return of stolen assets. Read more»
The Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Asset Recovery, called the 'Working Group on Asset Recovery' is a subsidiary body of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption. This Working Group on Asset Recovery is responsible for assisting and advising the Conference of the States Parties in the implementation of its mandate with the return of proceeds of corruption. This function is pursuant to Chapter V of UNCAC, which enshrines the recovery and return of stolen as a fundamental principle of the Convention. Read more»