8 May 2018 - Depriving criminals of illicit profits and the methods to transmit them is critical in combating transnational organized crime. Regardless of the source, which can include drug trafficking, corruption, illicit financial flows, fraud and others, asset recovery is a key instrument, requiring a common effort by all affected countries.
With a view to facilitating the asset recovery process in West and Central Asia, UNODC's Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries recently organized a meeting to discuss the establishment of such a tool in the region. The event took place in Astana, Kazakhstan in partnership with the Academy of Law Enforcement Agencies under the General Prosecutor's Office of Kazakhstan.
In his opening remarks, Jeremy Milsom, Senior Programme Coordinator of the Regional Programme, said: "Recovering, freezing, confiscating and returning assets is an essential part of the fight against organized crime. Corruption, illicit financial flows, financing of terrorism, tax evasion, fraud, money laundering and drug trafficking are just a few examples of activities with a common denominator: money."
"This money, either obtained illegally or with an illegal purpose, threatens the integrity of markets, distorts resource allocation, destroys trust in Government institutions and undermines the rule of law," Mr. Milsom added.
Also attending the event were more than 20 practitioners from law enforcement agencies and prosecuting authorities of Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as experts representing the Asset Recovery Networks of Europe (CARIN), Asia Pacific (ARIN-AP), and South Africa (ARINSA).
During the workshop, participants discussed a number of topics, including the establishment of an asset recovery network in West and Central Asia, and its membership, structure and functioning. Questions around "what an informal network is and how to use it" were raised during case presentations.
At the end of the workshop, participants decided to hold the next meeting in Turkmenistan in July 2018. The meeting will provide a platform to develop the statement of intent, to establish a Steering Committee to ensure effective administration and coordination, and to discuss the structure and functioning as well as organs, including the Presidency and Secretariat.