7 - 10 March 2023 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), held a regional training on the "Recovery of Criminal Assets" in Grand Bassam (Cote d’Ivoire), bringing together magistrates, investigators, and analysts from Financial Intelligence Units from Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, and Togo. This training aimed to strengthen institutional capacities of participating countries to achieve an efficient asset recovery system. It was organized under the framework of the UNODC CRIMJUST regional project "Strengthening Criminal Justice Responses to Drug Trafficking and Related Organized Crime in Francophone Countries in West Africa", funded by the U.S. State Department, in partnership with the Global Programme against Money-Laundering (GPML). A total of 21 practitioners participated, including 4 women and 17 men.
This training was inaugurated by Mr. Bernard KOUASSI, Director of Cabinet of the Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Cote d’Ivoire, as well as Mr. Cheikh TOURE, Head of UNODC Office in Abidjan. In their remarks, representatives underscored the importance of strengthening practitioners’ understanding of the phases of recovery of criminal assets and of asset management offices, as well as building capacity to use relevant tools and techniques for the removal of criminal financial incentives and for formal and informal international cooperation in asset recovery. While the Ministry of Justice reiterated the Ivoirian government’s commitment to bolster its legal framework to deprive criminals of their assets with the establishment of the Agency for Asset Recovery (Agence de gestion et recouvrement des avoirs criminels – AGRAC), the Head of UNODC Office in Abidjan commended the collaborative approach undertaken by UNODC to provide comprehensive support to partners and expressed his appreciation to both the Ivoirian authorities and to the U.S. Embassy for their ongoing support and commitment to CRIMJUST and UNODC more generally.
During this four-day workshop, the consultant and UNODC experts advocated for the need to trace, localize, and identify criminal proceeds at early stages of the investigations to avoid their disposal and to use both regional and international cooperation to this end. While initial modules looked at main components of asset recovery and principles guiding both financial investigation and the use of financial intelligence, subsequent modules focused on the importance of effective asset management, interaction between asset management office and the actors of criminal chain, networks, and tools for cooperation. These theory-based sessions were complemented by a series of mock cases, requiring participants to develop, suggest and present effective actions to effectively manage criminal assets and therefore take action to disrupt organised crime groups.
The concluding remarks of the training were made by Ms. Tejal SHAH of the U.S. Embassy who commended the organization of this multistakeholder regional initiative, capitalizing on UNODC’s expertise, to share knowledge and relevant experiences. She, along with the AGRAC Director General, handed over certificates to participants, attesting of their support to this training.
In their feedback, 100 percent of participants reported this training to be useful, they felt confident they could systematically track, locate, and identify illicit proceeds following this course.
This training was implemented under the framework of the CRIMJUST regional project – “Strengthening criminal justice responses to drug trafficking and related organized crime in coastal francophone countries in West Africa”, funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the U.S. State Department. It joins broader efforts by the UNODC to promote measures addressing the financial dimension of crime to deprive criminals of any illicit gains in line with the Kyoto Declaration on “Advancing Crime Prevention, Criminal Justice and the Rule of Law” as well as to support member-states achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
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