The simple definition of asset recovery: finding and returning stolen public funds. In practice, the process of asset recovery is anything but simple. It involves gathering intelligence and tracing financial transactions. Evidence needs to be obtained, including from abroad. Trials need to be held, legal strategies formed, confiscation orders issued. And when assets are returned, they need safeguarding.
Asset recovery requires technical skills and specialist legal knowledge. International cooperation, political will and persistence are key, because assets are often laundered in complex chains through multiple jurisdictions. These skills and expertise are still rare in most countries, especially those that suffer most from corruption.
This is the gap that the International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) – embedded within the Basel Institute on Governance since 2006 – aims to fill.
By convicting corrupt officials and recovering stolen assets, countries can also generate funds for development and strengthen their criminal justice system. The end results are stronger rule of law, integrity and trust in government.
To find out more about ICAR's approach to asset recovery and the fight against financial crime, please see the ICAR Operational Strategy 2021-2024.