13. August 2019

Untangling the complex puzzle of corruption, tax crime and organised crime

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Asset recovery is one strand in solving a complex problem. Photo by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash

Lise Stensrud, Policy Director Anti-Corruption at the Norwegian Development Cooperation Agency (Norad), explains the four challenges in "following the money" to tackle corruption, tax evasion and organised crime. Norad has recently become a core donor of the Basel Institute's International Centre for Asset Recovery, joining the UK, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Jersey.

Asset recovery is an important piece of a complex puzzle consisting of illicit financial flows from corruption, tax crime and organised crime in various forms. We have seen huge leaks in the last years in relation to the hiding places of stolen assets, the facilitators of these flows and the people engaged in tapping huge amounts of public funds.

Yet paradoxically, these are all results of whistle-blowers’ relations with and trust in the media rather than the efficient work of overseeing institutions. 

There are four major challenges as I see it:

  1. The first challenge is the need for real political engagement in creating conditions for change which permits investigators and prosecutors to work without interference and with the necessary protection.
  2. The second one is to defend the space for independent media and civil society and ensure their access to information. They are necessary and indispensable actors which ensure that politicians and institutions are held to account on their mandates and responsibilities.
  3. The third challenge is securing trust between governments and society by increased openness and transparency in both challenges and achievements in the process of asset recovery and using the actors to build better systems and knowledge.
  4. The fourth challenge is the continuous secrecy in many jurisdictions, which enable proceeds of crime to find a secure hiding place.

ICAR, being one of very few not-for-profit actors providing assistance to developing countries in the investigation and prosecution of financial crime, was an obvious partner for Norwegian development cooperation. We are sure that ICAR’s efforts will contribute greatly to partner countries’ knowledge and use of existing tools and legal instruments, leading to more efficient asset recovery.

With more donors offering support, ICAR has the potential to create a common understanding of the challenges and approaches and to improve coordination. 

Read more

Learn more about ICAR's work in our Annual Report 2018.

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Lise Stensrud

Policy Director Anti-Corruption, Norwegian Development Cooperation Agency