Asset recovery refers to the process by which the proceeds of crime are identified, traced, seized, confiscated and returned to their rightful owners. Generally speaking, States need to lead the process of recovering stolen assets. 

However, civil society organisations (CSOs) can play an important role in the different stages of the asset recovery process. 

This guide:

These practical guidelines are a set of international good practices intended to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of requesting and requested states in the asset recovery process.

Asset recovery is an intricate and time-consuming process. The guidelines unravel the asset recovery process, breaking it down into practical, manageable guidelines, allowing a targeted audience to focus on the asset recovery process in a comprehensive manner.

The Basel Institute has been working with the Ministry of Justice of Romania in a two-component project seeking to enhance the capacity of the Romanian authorities to recover the proceeds of crime. The project is being implemented by the Asset Recovery Office (ARO) of the Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) of the Basel Institute. Funding of the project has been provided by the Swiss-Romanian Co-operation Programme.

Corruption is one of the endemic evils in today’s world. The phenomenon has negative impacts on world poverty, democratic governance, progress and development. According to the World Bank, USD 20 to 40 billion is lost annually by developing nations because of corruption. With the adoption of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), the international community aims at setting up a comprehensive global framework to contain and ultimately lower significantly the levels of corruption worldwide.

Street protests in the ‘Arab Spring’ countries have illustrated that public demand for recovering stolen assets has grown exponentially, as have expectations by concerned populations and governments. From a topic discussed in expert forums, it has thus become a topic of the people. The question is: Have practitioners and policy makers delivered on these expectations?

The recovery of stolen assets is a fundamental principle of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). By including this element in the said Convention, the international community recognizes the negative impacts on countries and populations deprived of the billions of dollars that are diverted each year by their corrupt leaders and public officials.