Asset Returns

There are a number of policy issues that are likely to arise during any efforts to recover assets in corruption cases. StAR works with developing countries and financial centers to facilitate more systematic and timely return of stolen assets.

About Asset Returns

Through the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), States parties have for the first time agreed on a comprehensive set of rules governing asset recovery. Chapter V of the Convention establishes:  

“The return of assets […] is a fundamental principle of this Convention, and States Parties shall afford one another the widest measure of cooperation and assistance in this regard.” (article 51) 

The Convention also establishes for the first time that proceeds of embezzlement should be returned to the country of origin upon confiscation, whereas for the proceeds of other offences, a differentiating regime has been adopted taking into account damages, prior ownership and victims (article 57).  

Based on these obligations and commitments, StAR works with States parties to build their capacity to successfully identify and freeze or seize assets, obtain confiscation orders and return the assets to the requesting States in accordance with the Convention.  

However, the Convention is not always applicable, in which case domestic legislation or other international conventions or treaties come into play. Usually, the requested State may deduct certain costs it has incurred from the amount that is being recovered. Asset return can also be hampered by the requested jurisdiction’s concern over how the funds will be managed and disbursed once returned; especially in cases where the corrupt official is still in power or in an influential position.

Using our wide-spread network of contacts throughout virtually all jurisdictions, StAR also acts as an honest broker and establishes informal contact between requesting and requested States to facilitate asset recovery and asset return.  

The Addis Process

Co-hosted by the Governments of Ethiopia and Switzerland, the Addis process brings together asset recovery practitioners and Financing for Development experts from around the globe to discuss innovative solutions around asset management, asset return and the use of returned assets for sustainable development. Experts discuss best practices and challenges associated with asset return and look at specific cases in order to better understand the various components and legal frameworks that contribute in this process.  

Thus far there has been Addis I and Addis II in this process. 

Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Asset Recovery

The Asset Recovery Working Group is a subsidiary body of the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention and meets annually to discuss implementation of the mandate set under Chapter V of the Convention. The Group is tasked with developing knowledge in the area of asset recovery as well as facilitating exchange of information and encouraging cooperation between requested and requesting countries, to allow for smoother return of stolen assets.