The first ever Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) was held in 2017, as an outcome of the London Anti-Corruption Summit. It built on the experiences of country and regional asset recovery fora and provided a platform for practitioners to make progress on cases through direct engagement and meetings.
While identifying priority actions for asset recovery in the lead-up to the 10th session of the CoSP, StAR, along with the United States, France and the United Kingdom, looked back at what GFAR had achieved and how its lessons could be applied to current challenges.

Focusing on a practitioner-oriented and flexible approach to support a variety of asset recovery steps,  the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) Action Series was launched in July 2023 to facilitate direct engagement between a number of focus countries (Algeria, Honduras, Iraq, Moldova, Nigeria, Seychelles, Ukraine and Zambia) and the requested jurisdictions they identified for priority cooperation on asset recovery cases. The International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre (IACCC) and the International Center for Asset Recovery (ICAR) also joined the Action Series as partners to support focus country efforts along with StAR and the three co-host countries.

StAR team at a preparatory meeting with the Moldovan delegation at CoSP in Atlanta, December 2023

StAR, IACCC and ICAR, as well as the law enforcement authorities of the three co-host countries, worked closely with the focus countries to prepare for a series of bilateral and multilateral meetings aimed at facilitating communication and negotiations among requested and requesting countries in connection with ongoing cases. In order to make the best use of in person meetings, the eight focus countries identified priority cases and specific requests to provide to their counterparts so that they were informed ahead of the discussions. Initial meetings took place on the margins of the GlobE plenary in July 2023 as well as the UNCAC Asset Recovery Working Group in September 2023, and intensive preparations were undertaken with all focus countries in the lead up to CoSP10. 

By the end of the CoSP week, at least 20 requested jurisdictions participated in case meetings with the eight focus countries and over 50 bilateral meetings, one multijurisdictional briefing, two trilateral meetings and one quadrilateral meeting were held. In addition to the case consultations, focus countries had the opportunity to consider the use of the GFAR Principles for Disposition and Transfer of Confiscated Stolen Assets in Corruption Cases and stakeholder engagement in asset recovery and return.
At the Action Series debrief, practitioners stressed the importance of direct engagement between requesting and requested jurisdictions, noting that the intensive preparations and the opportunity for in person engagement were key to the success of case consultations. In particular, framing the meetings as ‘action-forcing events’ proved to be very fruitful as a number of the requested jurisdictions came prepared to CoSP, sending the relevant practitioners and in some instances even case materials and responses to mutual legal assistance requests. Regrettably, however, a few of the requested jurisdictions did not respond, participate or engage meaningfully in meetings, despite the efforts of the co-hosts and organizing partners ahead of and during CoSP.

As the GFAR Action Series will continue during the US Presidency of the CoSP, StAR hopes to keep the momentum through follow-up on the CoSP case consultations and, as one of the focus country practitioners noted in the debrief, use the Action Series as a new mechanism to focus on concrete progress and tangible results for asset recovery and return under Chapter V of UNCAC.