Transparency International

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from one of Transparency International’s national chapters. The Anti-Corruption Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International and funded by the European Union

Query

What are some of the lessons learnt in recovering assets from Egypt, Libya and Tunisia? Particularly, what are the barriers that have prevented the recovery of assets from both the asset sending states and the asset receiving states? For example, is it mostly due to a lack of political will, procedural error, or lack of expertise?

Note

This Helpdesk answer is also available in French.

CONTENT

1.    Challenges and lessons learnt in recovering assets from Egypt, Libya and Tunisia
2.    Identifying and tracing assets after the Arab Spring
3.    Challenges and lessons learnt in asset freezing
4.    The challenges of confiscating and repatriating stolen assets 
5.    References

SUMMARY

More than three years after the Arab Spring, the success of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia in recovering assets has been limited. The process of recovering the proceeds of corruption offers many challenges. Assets are often hidden through the use of shell companies and in countries with strong bank secrecy provisions. In addition, the difference in legal systems, ambiguity in legislation, complexity and costs involved, weak investigative capacity, as well as a lack of political will can pose even greater challenges for the effective recovery of assets.

In particular, an analysis of asset recovery efforts in the region shows that the identification, freeze, confiscation and repatriation of stolen assets is hindered by the indiscriminate use of mutual legal assistance requests and the insufficient use of informal channels for requesting assistance.

Countries in the region have complained of demanding evidentiary standards and the lack of clarity regarding mutual legal assistance requirements. A better use of informal channels, such as communication among financial integrity units and available international mechanisms like the Interpol/StAR focal points, could facilitate the collection of intelligence and evidence that in turn would help to build more substantiate formal requests for assistance. At the same time, requested countries need to be more pro-active in supporting the tracing and repatriation of assets, for instance, by sharing information on company registries and properties and allowing non-criminal based forfeitures.

Authors

Maíra Martini, Transparency International, mmartini@transparency.org

Date

30/07/2014

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