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

Can you please provide an overview of the use and good practices regarding unexplained wealth orders?

Content

1. Unexplained wealth order: an anti-corruption tool?
2. Unexplained wealth orders in practice
3. Annex
4. References

Summary

Unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) are part of non-conviction based asset confiscation, but contain some specificities: they do not require criminal convictions; they shift the burden of proof to the property owner who must prove a legitimate source for his wealth; and the forfeiture proceeding is instituted against a person rather than against the property. Provided that the law establishing UWOs provides for enough guarantees to avoid the mechanism to be abused and to ensure constitutional guarantees, such as due process and presumption of innocence, are respected, they can be considered an effective anti-corruption tool in the recovery of stolen assets. Their success also depends to a great extent on the existence of an independent body tasked to investigate and request such orders. 

Authors

Maíra Martini, Transparency International, tihelpdesk@transparency.org

Date

09/12/2015

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