28. June 2023

New partnership with Zambia's National Prosecution Authority – Gretta Fenner speaks of the long-term benefits of asset recovery

Gretta Fenner and Gilbert Phiri sign MoU in Zambia

We are delighted to have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Prosecution Authority of Zambia. The MoU, which covers support for Zambia’s efforts to fight corruption and recover stolen assets, was signed in Zambia’s capital Lusaka on 28 June 2023.

Among those present at the ceremony were the Director for Public Prosecutions Gilbert Phiri SC, Permanent Secretary Kennedy Kalunga, and British High Commissioner Nicolas Woolley. The British High Commission and UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office are funding our work in Zambia as part of a wider anti-corruption programme.

In her prepared speech, Gretta Fenner explained the importance of this partnership and what wider benefits will come from strengthening capacity for asset recovery. These are points that underlie all of the technical assistance and capacity building programmes of our International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR). These partnerships now span more than 30 agencies in around 18 countries.

It is a great moment to be here in Lusaka today, to sign the MoU with the National Prosecuting Authority, through which we can strengthen our support and collaboration with Zambia in its efforts to fight corruption.

The MOU aims to strengthen capacity of Zambia to recover stolen assets. It builds on the existing collaboration with the Zambia Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC).

I mention these two other organisations here because I want to point to a critical success factor in fighting corruption: It has to be an all-hands-on-deck effort. No single agency can do it alone. In fact not even all anti-corruption institutions together can do it together. It must be an all-society effort.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Gilbert Phiri referred to the need for a collaborative effort, and I fully support this vision. So expanding our collaboration to now include the National Prosecution Authority is a significant step forward for Zambia and for our cooperation.

In this context I would like to acknowledge the decision in Zambia to establish an Inter-Agency Investigation and Asset Recovery Unit. We look forward to supporting this critical new institution through our partnership.

Pathway to success

Zambia is taking great strides in its aim to combat corruption and recover stolen assets, both here in Zambia and from abroad. I can attest to the strong collaboration we have with Zambian institutions. Their commitment, and their teams’ commitment, give me great hope that together we will see success happen.

What does this success look like:

  1. Recover stolen assets, which are dearly needed in order to invest in social and economic development for the benefit of the people of Zambia.
  2. Asset recovery has a strong preventative impact. Criminals will think twice about investing in corruption when they see that we catch them, and we take their stolen money away.
  3. But asset recovery is not only about hard cash. It is also about building institutions. Through successful asset recovery, we can build stronger institutions. We thereby strengthen the rule of law and ultimately deepen trust in government.

Persistence will be needed

It’s a long term game. You will feel impatient. Expectations will be high for you to recover a lot of money very quickly. And you will have people who promise you  fast and big wins.

And yes, we will go faster because we go together. And we will go further because we go together.

But if we want to see sustainable change, sustainable success, we must acknowledge that time is needed.

Asset recovery is not a fast business. It is a complex, technically difficult task. But if it works – and it will work – it will have a major impact on Zambia. And we are here to help you.

On the notion of help: I would like to acknowledge two teams who are critical in this partnership.

  • First, of course, the British High Commission and the British Government, who are making it possible through their financial contribution. I am very thankful for the British High Commissioner for the announcement made just now that the UK are committing additional resources to this collaboration. With that, we will be able to deepen our engagement and stay in it for the long term. We are committed to this partnership.
  • Second, I would like to acknowledge the Basel Institute team, consisting of Simon Marsh and Julius Muraya, who are two of Africa’s most preeminent asset recovery specialists. 

To conclude: I am confident that today is the start of a great new partnership through which we can deepen Zambia’s progress in fighting corruption.

Thank you DPP, British High Commissioner, Permanent Secretary, ladies and gentlemen. To many years of fruitful and successful collaboration.