Tashkent (Uzbekistan), 9 October 2020 — Combating corruption and money laundering is a primary concern for countries in the West and Central Asia region. However, 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. When national response is limited due to capacity, efficient international coordination is needed.
To this end, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and its partners have established an initiative based on international cooperation: Asset Recovery Inter-Agency networks. These informal networks composed of law enforcement and judicial practitioners in the field of asset confiscation and recovery, implement coordinated activities aimed at asset confiscation and the return of crime proceeds.
The Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network West and Central Asia (ARIN-WCA) is one of such networks and forges ahead with its coordination activities, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic — due to the ongoing support of its donors, the government of Finland and the European Union.
The second meeting of the ARIN-WCA Steering Group this year was convened on 25 September by the network’s Secretariat under the chairmanship of the Office of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Kyrgyzstan. Technical support was provided by UNODC under its Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries.
Focal points from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan met virtually to discuss project planning activities for the fourth quarter of 2020, to ensure the continuity of all ARIN-WCA operations.
Abror Akbutaev, from the Networks Secretariat, thanked UNODC and the Regional Programme for the support provided to develop the network’s webpage, which will be launched by the end of the year and provide a secure, password-protected space to share resources and information.
UNODC experts introduced two new initiatives on asset management and beneficial ownership that will be implemented throughout 2020. In this regard, Danilo Campisi, Criminal Justice Advisor to the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries, expressed satisfaction for the work done and the commitment of all stakeholders to achieve the objective of piloting these two activities.
“I am extremely happy to announce that in a very short time we managed to meet the requests put forward by this group and develop a new strategic package of integrated activities. This newly conceptualised package of strategic activities which will combine desk review exercises, on-line questionnaires and interaction among all participants through simultaneous virtual breakout groups sessions and table-top exercises facilitated and supported in real time by our experts,” he added.
This newly conceptualised package of strategic interventions guarantees business continuity and injects agility into the network; both vital for overcoming any challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic.