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New guide to recovery looted funds published

afrol News, 4 May - A new guide that will help countries recover looted funds even when there has not been a conviction for the crime was released by the World Bank and the United Nations Office against Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today.

The publication, Stolen Asset Recovery: A Good Practices Guide for Non-Conviction Based Asset Forfeiture, by Theodore S. Greenberg, Linda Samuel, Wingate Grant, and Larissa Gray, was produced under the auspices of the World Bank and UNODC’s Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), as part of its overall efforts to end impunity for corruption worldwide.

“Asset recovery can be a lengthy, expensive and unpredictable process. Innovative approaches are needed to facilitate asset recovery and improve the prospects of success," said Theodore S. Greenberg, World Bank’s senior financial specialist and co-author of the guide, adding “Non-Conviction Based (NCB) asset forfeiture is an innovation that can be adapted to the needs of a wide range of countries with differing legal traditions. The Guide explains how they can make use of this tool in their asset recovery programmes.”

NCB asset forfeiture is a legal regime that provides for the seizure and recovery of the proceeds of serious crime, including corruption, without the need for a criminal conviction. NCB is often the only option that governments can use when the corrupt official or the person paying the bribe is dead, has fled the jurisdiction, is immune from prosecution, or is too powerful to prosecute - all common in cases of grand corruption.

According to the World Bank, a growing number of jurisdictions have established a system to allow NCB asset forfeiture and it has been recommended as a tool in the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

A collaborative effort of expert practitioners from 17 civil and common law countries, the NCB Guide identifies the key concepts - legal, operational, and practical - that an NCB asset forfeiture regime should encompass to be effective and which can help in recovering stolen assets.

The World Bank says there are sections on the experiences of Switzerland, United Kingdom, Guernsey, Ireland, Kuwait, Thailand and Colombia. Further, the book provides tools that can be used by practitioners, such as samples of investigative and court forms and pre-seizure planning guidelines. Included with the NCB Guide is a CD ROM Appendix of Legal Resources, the statement released by the bank said.

The StAR Initiative was launched in September, 2007 by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick, and the Executive Director of the UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa. It emphasises that developed and developing countries share a joint responsibility in tackling corruption, and that international collaboration and collective action are needed to facilitate asset recovery and prevent asset theft.

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