New tools for asset recovery

New tools for asset recovery is our global priority area that aims to keep us, and civil society more generally, at the forefront of global developments in asset recovery and to develop evidence-based approaches to these developments.


Within the field of asset recovery, traditional, criminal justice approaches are frequently being replaced by calls for states to adopt and use new, non-traditional tools to make case-work more effective and faster. While typically discussion of alternative tools was focussed around non-conviction-based forfeiture laws, there has been a rapid advance in the past four years of other mechanisms, including reconciliation agreements, unexplained wealth orders, and sanctions. Several of these tools show promise, however knowledge gaps exist in several areas, both in our understanding of their effectivity as a tool for asset recovery and in how they contribute positively or negatively to building transparency and accountability more broadly.

What we’re doing

CiFAR’s work on sanctions over the past years has been an important step in developing out knowledge base. Our priority now is to take this further and develop a better understanding of non-traditional tools more broadly, their prevalence and effectivity in actually combatting cross-border corruption, facilitating asset recovery and contributing to systemic change in both countries of origin and financial centres.

This work is in part evaluative, and in part through investigating the effect of these tools in practice. Within this we are also seek to explore new ideas for tools that could make processes both more effective and more transparent and accountable.


With the help of their corrupt networks, kleptocrats steal billions from their citizens every year. Anti-corruption sanctions have been imposed against high-ranking public officials by several jurisdictions as a way to prevent them from removing their corruptly acquired wealth and to give law enforcement agencies the opportunity to launch investigations and legal action to recover that wealth.


Our main sanctions page includes information on sanctions as an anti-corruption tool, as well as links to resources discussing sanctions.

Sanctions Watch

Sanctions Watch is an updated version of our original tool – EU Sanctions Watch – and is a database of persons subject to anti-corruption sanctions across the world. It documents the people under these sanctions and analyses sanctions as a tool against corruption.

Sanctioning kleptocrats

Sanctioning Kleptocrats is an assessment of EU Misappropriation Sanctions, their utility and their drawbacks. It also provides a range of options that could be considered to improve the EU’s response.

Unexplained wealth orders

Unexplained Wealth Orders were introduced to the legislation of the United Kingdom with the aim of facilitating the fight against organised crime and,  uniquely, also grand corruption of foreign origin. A UWO, as a form of disclosure order that partially reverses the burden of proof, is intended to achieve confirmation of interest in a certain real estate property and the source of wealth that was used to acquire it.

Unexplained Wealth Orders: A new tool for asset recovery?

This report assesses the efficiency of Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs), primarily as existing in UK legislation, in advancing asset recovery and the fight against grand corruption. The report introduces the UWO legislation, explores how, when and where UWOs have been used to date, and also reflects on transparency and accountability considerations.

Reconcilliation Agreements

Reconciliation agreements are a way for states to recover assets obtained through corruption by entering into deals with persons involved in corruption, whereby money is given to the state in exchange for amnesty from prosecution for the original crime.

Reconciliation agreements and asset recovery

This report assesses the use of, and considerations that should go into, establishing a reconciliation agreement framework to address the recovery of assets stolen through corruption. It suggests that while this kind of agreement may present benefits in terms of speed and resource effectiveness, they also present substantial challenges in terms of justice and impunity.

Returning assets indirectly through third-party entities

Indirect return mechanisms describe the practice of returning recovered money across borders indirectly via third-party entities that stand between cooperating governments.

Indirect Asset Return Through Third-Party Entities

This report looks at the different ways funds can be internationally repatriated involving third party entities. It specifically looks at three different paths for returning stolen assets indirectly: through specially established mechanisms, using multilateral organisations, and through private and civic actors. The opportunities and challenges of each of these are discussed, as well as considerations in their use.

New Trends in Asset Recovery

Our New Trends conferences discuss developments in the field of asset recovery with experts and practioners from across the globe.

Kleptocracy and Asset Recovery: The Role of Destination Countries

This online conference in January 2022 brought together a global community of academics, civil society actors, researchers, journalists and policymakers to discuss trends in policy around cross-border corruption prevention and asset recovery, with a focus in this instance on the role of the Global North.