Edited by Adam Graycar and Russell G. Smith
Chapter 19: Recovering Corruptly Obtained Assets
Larissa Gray INTRODUCTION Corruption is a global epidemic. Its impact can be particularly devastating on developing countries, which lose between $20 to $40 billion every year through corrupt acts such as bribery and embezzlement (Baker, 2005 cited in UNODC and The World Bank, 2007, p. 10). Assets stolen by corrupt officials are often laundered through the global financial system and find safe haven in the world’s financial centres. The scale of the problem is vast and solutions are complicated by the diverse range of stakeholders involved, including law enforcement and justice officials in developing countries and financial centres, banks, private companies, development organizations, civil society and the media. Over the past decade, international bodies have recognized that preventing and detecting the theft of public assets, and supporting attempts to recover them, is an integral part of broader development efforts to improve governance and fight corruption and an important contribution to the fight against poverty. A number of successful high-profile cases with creative international co-operation have demonstrated that asset recovery is possible. However, the recovery of these assets from foreign jurisdictions is estimated at only $5 billion over the past 15 years (Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, 2009, p. 4). The huge gap between even the lowest estimates of assets stolen and those repatriated demonstrates that a more visible, tangible progress in forcefully prosecuting corruption cases, and systematic recovery of proceeds of corruption is needed. This chapter summarizes the international commitments to date, describes the process of asset recovery, and presents the...
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