While several measures aimed at preventing the theft of public assets have been in place for many years and while criminal proceedings remain the default for recovering any money hidden overseas, the past four years have seen a growth in prominence of new ways to combat illicit financial flows.
This has included big pushes on beneficial ownership and generally on fighting financial secrecy, sanctions, and the use of non-conviction-based forfeiture of ill-gotten gains, alongside questions over the utility of traditional methods.
Lacking in many of these discussions and policy tendencies though are solid, empirical reasons for favouring certain tools over others. These tools have also only made progress to a certain extent, with issues around transparency and accountability remaining as strong as ever.
Our work on Global Priorities goes beyond individual country cases and represents our commitment to push the agenda on asset recovery globally and develop the evidence around and advocating for measures that really work to tackle cross-border corruption and asset recovery.
A key part of this our Global Priorities work is considering both traditional and the new tools and situating them within the challenging political contexts within which asset recovery is carried out. Our work in this area is also about considering the interlinks between asset recovery and the bigger political issues of transparency, accountability and good governance globally and nationally.
Our Global Priorities
Traditional, criminal justice approaches to asset recovery are frequently being replaced by calls for states to adopt and use new, non-traditional tools to make case-work more effective and faster. We aim to better understand these tools and provide evidence-based understandings of their utility.
A 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 area of work explores how and under what circumstances these returns could still take place.
Introducing asset recovery laws has been an ask of anti-corruption civil society in many countries, particularly in recent years in the Global South. This priority area explores the link between asset recovery laws and actual recovery, and between asset recovery laws and citizen oversight of their governments more broadly.
Civil society needs to work together to push for evidence-based global, regional and national reforms to make asset recovery accountable, transparent and work for systemic change. This priority aims to continue our coordinated work with civil society for these reforms and ties together parts of our reseach work.