Domestic coordination through developing national asset recovery strategies, promoting legislative initiatives to remove obstacles to coordination, and building diverse participation among domestic agencies can greatly improve asset recovery work.
About Domestic Coordination
Without effective domestic coordination, asset recovery in complex corruption cases is unlikely. From case inception to ultimate asset recovery, possible involved domestic agencies may include, financial intelligence units, law enforcement, tax authorities, customs agencies, financial regulators or supervisors, corporate registration offices, anti-corruption agencies, asset recovery offices public prosecution offices and asset management offices. In multi-jurisdictional cases, these domestic agencies may seek cooperation from international counterparts or through participation in networks.
Domestic coordination ensures alignment of cases with national strategy, prioritization of resources, clear communication among involved parties, and avoidance of miscommunication or missed opportunities that may allow the dissipation of assets
Setting Asset Recovery as a Policy Priority
Asset recovery policies should have clear objectives, high-level commitment, and sufficient resources (Stephenson et al. 2011). The policies should include commitments to improve legislation, institutional capacity, domestic coordination and international cooperation. In addition, national policies should focus on committing to increase the number of cases undertaken and the value of assets frozen or confiscated. Reporting measures are important for tracking progress and monitoring results, with clear benchmarks to encourage proactive initiatives by law enforcement agencies.
Good Practice Examples: Elements of Successful Asset Recovery Policies
- Clearly articulated policy: Colombia, Nigeria, Somalia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, among others, have all adopted asset recovery as a policy priority and have publicized their commitments through statements and on government websites.
- High-level demonstration of commitment: G20 leaders announced their commitment in a 2013 declaration in St. Petersburg, Russia. In the 2017 Global Forum on Asset Recovery, Nigeria, Tunisia, Ukraine and Sri Lanka, as well as the United Kingdom and United States adopted 10 principles for disposition and transfer of confiscated stolen assets known as the GFAR principles.
- Resources: The Netherlands (Afpakken) program for recovery of stolen assets provided additional funding for law enforcement authorities.
- Commitment to international engagement: Switzerland launched the Lausanne Process, a global forum that brings practitioners together to discuss pragmatic solutions to asset recovery. In 2017, Guidelines for the Efficient Recovery of Stolen Assets were promulgated as an outcome from this forum.
Developing National Asset Recovery Strategies
Adoption and implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to combat corruption and recover stolen assets can greatly benefit the local authorities working on asset recovery cases.
Prior to adopting a strategy, countries should asses the strengths and weaknesses of their existing asset recovery frameworks, including review of institutional capacity of domestic agencies, the legislative and regulatory framework and identification of available resources. Countries should understand the risks of corruption or other illicit flows originating, passing through or coming to rest in their jurisdiction. With such understanding, countries should ensure that policy-makers, financial intelligence units (FIU), law enforcement authorities, anti-corruption agencies, supervisors, prosecutors, and other relevant competent authorities, at the policymaking and operational levels, have effective mechanisms in place which enable them to cooperate. In addition, where appropriate, these agencies can coordinate and exchange information domestically with each other concerning the development and implementation of policies and activities to combat corruption and related money laundering.
Asset recovery strategies may include policy and high-level operational frameworks. Strategies may address:
- establishment of an oversight committee or national taskforce on asset recovery
- designation of lead agency in high-profile cases
- case prioritization frameworks
- identification of legislation gaps and priorities for improvement of legislative framework
- information and intelligence sharing protocols among domestic agencies
- domestic coordination of international cooperation efforts
- policies on engagement of private sector parties to assist asset recovery efforts
- management of restrained assets
- reporting of asset recovery statistics
- periodic review of the national strategy
Domestic coordination may be impeded by legislative gaps or regulatory impediments to sharing case information among involved domestic agencies. Such impediments may be addressed through ad hoc memoranda of understanding between agencies, or preferably, through adoption of clear legislative frameworks that allow full cooperation among domestic agencies with appropriate safeguards of due process rights, as well as ensure compliance with data protection, privacy rules and other similar provisions.