Challenging returns

Challenging returns is our priotity area that aims to bring fresh ideas to the issue of returning stolen funds to countries where either corruption risks have not abaited or where there is little ability for civil society and the population more generally to monitor the return.


A growing challenge in international asset recovery cases are returns of stolen assets to countries where corrupt regimes are still in power or where there is little to no possibility of citizen oversight of returned assets. This brings into tension the duty to return on the part of the states holding the assets and the duty to return responsibly. Countries such as Libya and Yemen, with ongoing hostilities, or Equatorial Guinea or Uzbekistan, with largely unchanged regimes, are current examples where these tensions are strongly in play. The result of this has seen returns stalled indefinitely or returning governments compromising responsible return principles. It is likely that these issues will become more common, in the coming years, as cases continue to grow.


What we’re doing

Our work in this area involves developing new understandings of possibilities and creative solutions to return stolen assets to challenging environments in a way that is transparent, accountable and benefits the people from whom the assets were stolen. It particular it looks at ways returns can contribute to building strong governance systems in both countries of origin and financial centres. It also investigates return processes that are underway to challenging environments to expose the challenges and risks that these returns entail.


We have been engaged in the issue of asset recovery to Yemen for several years and have produced reports to support any eventual recovery to the country.

Yemen’s stolen assets: Past and Future

Our groundbreaking report analysing the Saleh frozen assets and possibilities for return to Yemen. Included in this is an assessment of the various options that could be taken to advance the case.

Forgotten Gold: The Yemen Sanctions

This report looks into the UN Sanctions on Yemen relating to former president Saleh and the role of European countries in implementing these sanctions.


As part of a global coalition of civil society, we have been working to support transparency and accountability in the return of the proceeds of corruption relating to Gulnara Karimova to Uzbekistan. This has included supporting press releases and reports directed to the Swiss and French authorities and advocacy campaiging with other CSOs.