U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from a U4 Partner Agency. The U4 Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International in collaboration with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre based at the Chr. Michelsen Institute.


Please provide information on the recovery of stolen assets from Germany? In particular, we are looking for information on: legal framework, volumes of assets frozen and returned, estimates of stolen assets hidden in Germany, emblematic cases of asset recovery in Germany, best practices and known challenges regarding asset recovery from Germany (e.g. in the areas of mutual legal assistance and financial investigations) and possible solutions.


  1. International and domestic legal framework
  2. Tracking and repatriating assets hidden in Germany
  3. Best practices and challenges
  4. References


As one of the world’s largest economies, Germany plays an important role in supporting developing countries to recover stolen assets hidden by corrupt officials abroad. While estimates about stolen assets stored in German bank accounts are not publicly available, anecdotal evidence shows that the country has been attractive to corrupt individuals due to the secrecy of its financial system. An assessment of Germany’s asset recovery efforts is made difficult because of the lack of data on frozen and recovered assets.

However, the German government has shown growing commitment to improving its assistance in asset recovery processes and became a key player in promoting asset recovery cooperation over the past five years, including the co-hosting of the last Arab Forum for Asset Recovery in 2015. The ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption in 2014 and adoption of dedicated domestic legislation showed serious commitment by the German government to react to criticism on the weaknesses of Germany’s anticorruption framework and in anti-money laundering.

The country has complied with European and international asset freeze orders against individuals suspected of stealing and hiding public assets abroad. However, there is a lack of transparency in the data covering the size of assets frozen and recovered in Germany and significant weaknesses in regulating beneficial ownership.


Jackson Oldfield and Agatino Camarda, Transparency International & Civil Forum for Asset Recovery (CiFAR). [email protected]


Marie Chêne & Finn Heinrich, Phd, Transparency International, Laila Martin, Civil Forum for Asset Recovery (CiFAR)




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