StAR staff with participants of a training course on financial investigations in Mongolia, 2018
The StAR initiative has been working with Mongolia for 12 years to provide capacity building training and policy and legal support. During this time, the Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) has grown in responsibility to investigate corruption and money laundering related offences, violations of the income and asset declaration system, and to disseminate knowledge and understanding of domestic legal requirements and international standards.
The IAAC has attributed its success and accomplishments to the years of commitment and capacity building support from StAR. With generous support provided by Korea and the United States, StAR engaged external experts for knowledge sharing, who offered good practices and skills in technical subjects including, but not limited to, strengthening processes and practices around mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, the use of civil proceedings for asset recovery, financial investigations, asset management, asset freezing, as well as working with prosecutors to strengthen case supervisor strategies.
Mongolia has seen success in asset recovery, with its first settlement and return of $1.1 million in stolen assets from the United Kingdom to the state through a combination of international informal cooperation and the formal MLA process. With many more international cases underway, Mongolia has become active in regional networks and groups such as ARIN-AP and the GlobE Network, leveraging these contacts to advance case work and facilitate bilateral engagement with requested countries.
The COVID pandemic has been an obstacle but also provided an opportunity for StAR to deliver technical assistance and capacity building virtually to a wider audience. Over 150 participants from 6 different organizations have received a practical financial investigations workshop, while topic-specific webinars on subjects such as virtual assets, the dark web and civil recovery have been attended by over 350 prosecutors and detectives, including those in remote regions.
StAR also facilitated the improvement in Mongolia’s domestic coordination mechanisms by introducing a Case Management System (CMS) which enhanced internal coordination and cooperation within investigators and between investigators and prosecutors in their efforts to manage asset recovery cases. The CMS was implemented and used by investigators of the IAAC and the General Intelligence Agency. The evidence matrix within the CMS appeared especially useful for prosecutors when working on complicated cases with multiple offences, especially corruption, procurement fraud, tax evasion, and money laundering. In continued efforts to enhance domestic coordination, StAR also began working with the University of Internal Affairs (an institution of the Mongolian Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs that serves as a public higher education institution in Mongolia dedicated to training of law enforcement) in providing technical assistance related to fighting corruption.
During the course of this extensive engagement in Mongolia, StAR also provided support in improving the country’s regime and mechanism for provision and transmission of mutual legal assistance in criminal matters with focus on the recovery of stolen assets internationally. Thereby, in 2015, the MLA guidance chapter was finalized and approved by the Prosecutor General of Mongolia. In 2019, this chapter on MLA was removed from the General Guidance on Prosecutorial Supervision on Criminal Investigation and became an independent guidance. Since 2020, efforts were directed to address some of the gaps identified in the MLA Guidance to which StAR provided input on topics including: the international recovery of stolen assets, the prosecutorial role when public interest is harmed, and prosecutorial work with foreign authorities including the Court to enforce domestic court orders, further investigations, seek legal assistance in collection/evaluation of evidence, etc. In May 18th 2021, the MLA Guidance was approved (Decree No. A/65) by the Council Meeting headed by the Prosecutor General of Mongolia.
Building capacity and achieving results requires a long-term commitment and an investment in personnel over the long term. StAR's capacity building efforts in Mongolia will move forward by partnering with academia to train new minds, delivering focused events on emerging threats and new methods, and strengthening the processes associated with asset management.
StAR training on financial investigations and asset tracing in Mongolia, 2019