Within days of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, Western governments imposed unprecedented economic sanctions against the Russian state and certain Russian oligarchs. They are now working to identify and freeze assets linked to sanctioned individuals and entities – a magnificent challenge in itself.
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.
Before the adoption of UNCAC, there was no policy or international legal framework guiding the disposal and monitoring of repatriated assets. As a result, there were no globally accepted rules to follow when repatriating confiscated assets to requesting countries.
Even after the adoption of UNCAC, global practice regarding the disposal of repatriated assets remains unclear. Indeed Article 57 (5) of UNCAC does not provide clear guidance in relation to the final disposal of confiscated assets.
Financial crimes such as corruption, fraud, and embezzlement generate significant profits, often at the expense of the public budget. These proceeds of crime are usually hidden outside of the country where the crime was originally committed, and laundered through complex financial and commercial transactions, often spanning across numerous jurisdictions.
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.
This paper looks at the use of proceeds of asset recovered from Sani Abacha, Vladimir Montesinos, and Ferdinand Marcos and their families. It will also briefly address a much more recent case involving Kazakhstan.
Repatriation of stolen monies makes available additional resources for development activities. The challenge is to ensure efficient, accountable and transparent use of such assets, given states may lack capacity or political will and that corruption may be prevalent at various levels of government.