The time has come to act. Beyond shedding light on the devastating impact of grand corruption, the Arab spring has revealed major anti-money laundering deficiencies, and the huge difficulties of getting the money back even after the dictator has been pushed from power.\
Corrupt money transferred out of developing and transitional economies is conservatively estimated at US$20 to US$40 billion per year. Hundreds of billions in much needed funds for development have already been taken over the last few decades. While recovery of stolen funds could greatly contribute to development in those countries, prevention of such outflows through greater financial transparency and anti-money laundering efforts would reduce the harm done by corruption in the first place. By ratifying the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), States Parties have made commitments on both of these issues.
As the fourth Conference of State Parties (CoSP) to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) convenes in Marrakesh, Morocco, and people throughout the Arab world struggle to get back their countries’ stolen funds, the UNCAC Coalition calls on States Parties to adopt resolutions to (1) fulfil their commitment to Chapter V by removing barriers to asset recovery; (2) improve their anti-money laundering efforts in practice.
Of the hundreds of billions in ill-gotten assets misappropriated over the course of the last fifteen years, no more than US$5 billion has been recovered and even less has been returned to the countries from which these assets were taken. There is a variety of reasons for this, including the fact that asset recovery processes are complex; they require a great deal of resources and expertise and depend on effective cooperation between the jurisdictions involved.
In this regard, the UNCAC Coalition welcomes the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative’s (StAR) report “Barriers to Asset Recovery” and applauds its key recommendations which aim to facilitate judicial cooperation in the area of asset recovery and allow for rapid tracing and temporary freezing or seizing of assets before a formal mutual legal assistance (MLA) request is received However, the Coalition is also concerned that even the introduction of these measures would not fully address the twofold problem that too few asset recovery cases are brought to justice and those which are brought do not lead to effective compensation for victims.
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