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Emerging Trends in Asset Recovery

Gretta Fenner-Zinkernagel, Charles Monteith and Pedro Gomes Pereira

Street protests in the ‘Arab Spring’ countries have illustrated that public demand for recovering stolen assets has grown exponentially, as have expectations by concerned populations and governments. From a topic discussed in expert forums, it has thus become a topic of the people. The question is: Have practitioners and policy makers delivered on these expectations?
Clearly, since the ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) ten years ago, much progress has been made in streamlining respective legal and institutional frameworks. On the other hand, we also find that practical successes on the ground remain few and far apart, and largely limited to a handful of countries.
This book asks why and, through the voice of renowned practitioners from a broad range of affected countries, analyses challenges that remain, identifies new stumbling blocks that have cropped up, and discusses practical solutions that are being tested with a view to overcoming these.
The book is published by the Basel Institute on Governance’s International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR).


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ANDREW DORNBIERER AND GRETTA FENNER ZINKERNAGEL Introduction Each year crime generates an unsettling amount of profit. It would seem that the old adage ‘crime doesn’t pay’ is not always true, at least in a financial sense. A United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report released in October 2011 estimated that: The total amount of criminal proceeds generated in 2009, excluding those de- rived from tax evasion, may have been approximately USD 2.1 trillion, or 3.6 per cent of [the global] GDP in that year.1 Corruption alone accounts for a sizeable chunk of this figure, as it continues to generate billions of dollars in earnings. The amount of public assets stolen from developing and transitional states each year is approximately USD 20-40 billion.2 As for the victims of corruption, the damages suffered can be cat- astrophic. This is particularly the case with corruption in the public sector, in which individuals in public office abuse their powers for their own benefit and at the detriment of the people they are supposed to serve. A frequent example is that of kickbacks paid by corporations to public officials or members of developing state governments in the context of obtaining mining concessions. Another example is the out- right theft of public funds through embezzlement and fraud. It should also be noted however that corruption is not limited solely to develop- ing countries, as these examples might at first reading seem to sug- gest. An estimated EUR 120 billion is stolen through corrupt acts each...

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