Vienna, 6 December 2019 -Despite the advances in international efforts to recover stolen assets from corrupt officials, there is still much work to do, with an estimated two per cent of global GDP continually lost each year to bribery alone. The UNODC-World Bank Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR) has now published a book that outlines how insolvency proceedings can be used to combat official corruption and recover stolen assets.
In pursuit of stolen assets, governments often use criminal prosecution and confiscation efforts, as well as civil lawsuits. However, each of these options comes with multiple barriers to successful asset recovery, including a lack of political will to investigate and charge corrupt officials; a dearth of capacity, expertise, and resources to pursue cases or cooperate internationally; and the existence of a global financial system that enables corrupt officials to rapidly move and conceal illicit funds.
These challenges can impede justice in many corruption cases. The book from the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), 'Going for Broke', developed in close cooperation with the International Bar Association (IBA), presents new thinking on a previously underutilized process for recovering stolen assets-insolvency proceedings.
While efforts to recover stolen assets in international corruption cases generally start with criminal investigations and prosecution, victims of corruption may be able to use insolvency processes as an additional, and sometimes alternative tool, to gain control of corrupt assets held by businesses or related parties.
'Going for Broke : Insolvency Tools to Support Cross-Border Asset Recovery in Corruption Cases' sets out, for the first time, a step-by-step guide for asset recovery practitioners on the use of insolvency proceedings in recovering proceeds of corruption. The report outlines the procedures associated with insolvency actions, explores issues to consider when pursuing this legal avenue, and details practical methods for dealing with various strategic and technical concerns.
This new contribution from StAR, in collaboration with the IBA, was launched and presented by Jean-Pierre Brun (StAR), during the UNCITRAL Colloquium on Civil Asset Tracing and Recovery in Vienna. The report makes particular use of case studies, both real and hypothetical, to demonstrate the benefits of cross border insolvency proceedings in international corruption cases and explore the various challenges that face practitioners in this pursuit.
"On the eve of the international anti-corruption day, we hope that this new study will be used by anti-corruption and asset recovery officials when they contemplate strategic choices for their cases, and as a support tool for training relevant staff," said Brigitte Strobel-Shaw, Chief of UNODC's Corruption or Economic Crimes Branch.
The Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR) is a partnership between the World Bank Group and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime that 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.