01. February 2024

In memory of Nick Staite

Nick Staite at sunset

We pay tribute to our dear friend and colleague Nick Staite, who passed away on 15 January 2024.

Nick had a long and distinguished career in law before joining the Basel Institute on Governance in 2015.

A University of Oxford graduate, Nick trained as a solicitor in London before joining the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). During his 28 years at the CPS, he led the prosecutions of a host of serious and organised crimes, from drug and human trafficking to fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. In many of these cases, he was responsible for securing the restraint and confiscation of criminal assets both domestically and internationally.

As a CPS trainer, Nick used his talent for training and mentoring to build the capacity of police and aspiring Crown Court advocates in investigating and prosecuting serious and organised crimes and in managing complex, multi-jurisdictional cases.

At the Basel Institute, Nick worked with our International Centre for Asset Recovery team in Eastern and Southern Africa. He was part of a pioneer team in Malawi brought in to support authorities in tackling one of the country’s most notorious corruption cases, and was instrumental in anchoring financial investigation and confiscation techniques in the practices of our Malawi counterparts. 

Also in Malawi, and later in Kenya and Tanzania, he helped build stronger laws, practices and policies. These are now put to good work to recover illicit assets and fight for societies with less corruption and less poverty. These overarching goals were Nick’s main professional motivation, as he was driven of course by his legal curiosity, but more importantly by the conviction that one can, and one should, aim to make a difference.  

Nick was also a constant source of knowledge and inspiration to colleagues, always the first to freely help solve complex legal conundrums with his boundless knowledge of law and jurisprudence. Colleagues at the Basel Institute speak of Nick’s “resourcefulness” and “willingness to share his rich experience”. 

“He would never sleep until he found the answer to a difficult legal issue,” said one colleague. Another commented that “he was not only really insightful but made everyone around him feel happy and at ease.”

Mentoring was indeed his passion, and he developed strong professional and personal bonds with the people he worked with no matter who they were, how important they were, or where they came from. He was an uncle to some, a grandpa to others, a brother, a dear friend, a mentor. Our Managing Director Gretta Fenner remembers: 

“Nick had a huge heart of gold and a beautiful sense of humour. He was also an outstanding professional and a brilliant legal mind. He has enriched our work and shared generously his experience and expertise.” 

Nick’s love for Africa and its people was not only evident in his dedication to the work with our partners. Very early on during his time in Malawi, along with colleagues and others, he supported a local charity that used art to raise funds for the “Streetwise” orphanage in Mwambwakanthu, near the capital Lilongwe. His compassion and generosity knew no bounds and from helping to purchase land, he and colleagues helped to build a school and subsequently a second community building to support the local people. His support to sustainable projects for Streetwise continued right until the end. 

Nick will stay in our memories and the legacy of his efforts will live on in the lives of the many people he helped and supported throughout his career. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. Rest in peace, dear friend. You will always be part of the Basel family.