Expert, innovative research is essential in advocating for reform to prevent the theft of state assets and ensure their return.
Current research is listed below and in relevant project pages.
Asset Recovery Frameworks, Practice and the Role of Civil Society in East And Southern Africa
Drawing on national studies conducted by CiFAR in seven countries in East and Southern Africa, this report compiles information about asset recovery
legislative and policy frameworks set out by governments, as well as civil society activity in this area and makes cross-country comparisons. This report looks at seven countries with a diverse level of asset recovery activity across these two regions: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia.
Read it here.
Anti-Corruption, Stolen Asset Recovery and Civil Society: Burundi, Ethiopia, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia
CiFAR has looked at legislation and practice related to the recovery of stolen assets, including civil society activity, in five countries in East and Southern Africa: Burundi, Ethiopia, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia. These are countries with growing interest in asset recovery, several of which have engaged in cross-border cases.
Read the reports
Asset Recovery and Victims of Grand Corruption
The loss of public assets to corruption has a significant impact on countries and their populations. Public programmes, such is infrastructure development and social welfare are deprived of their intended impact due to the loss of funding to corruption, which harms the people who rely on these resources for their well-being. Brought on by work of civil society organisations (CSOs), legislatures, and international organisations, there is a growing effort to prioritize victims in the asset recovery process. Our new paper details these developments.
Read it here.
Sanctions as a Tool for Asset Recovery: Global Perspective
One of the tools increasingly being used to fight against stolen public funds are sanctions that impose asset freezes. However, despite an increase in the usage of such sanctions to fight corruption, only some sanctions regimes have been designed specifically to aid also in the recovery of misappropriated funds to countries of origin and, as such, provide a direct link to the seizure, forfeiture and recovery processes. This report explores the growing use of anti-corruption sanctions and their impact on asset recovery.
Read it here.
Sanctions As a Tool For Asset Recovery: Kenya
This research study assesses the current state of play in the use of sanctions as an asset recovery tool, examining their application in Kenya, and their prospects for addressing grand corruption. Kenya has been relatively successful in recent years in concluding modest asset recovery agreements and has shifted its strategy from purely pursuing corruption prosecutions and convictions to also tracing and locating the proceeds of corruption. Sanctions imposed by other countries have though been portrayed within Kenya as politically motivated and designed to preserve geopolitical or business advantage. Care needs to be taken when imposing these international sanctions that they address primarily cases where national progress is stalled. Extensive communication with a wide range of Kenyan stakeholders during the process is recommended.
Read it here.
Sanctions As a Tool For Asset Recovery: Mozambique
This research study assesses the current state of play in the use of sanctions as an asset recovery tool, examining their application in Mozambique, and their prospects for addressing grand corruption. The Government of Mozambique and the international partners have been struggling to locate and repatriate the assets stolen in the Hidden-Debt scandal in 2016 which brought the country to economic collapse. Therefore, sanctions by international partners, including secondary sanctions on international business entities implicated in domestic corruption scandals, may be useful in sending a clear message that impunity cannot be tolerated and exerting pressure for long-term reform. The anti-corruption objective which any current sanctions related to Mozambique should support is to block the repayment and nullify the fraudulently acquired state loans.
Read it here.
Sanctions As a Tool For Asset Recovery: Moldova
This research study assesses the current state of play in the use of sanctions as an asset recovery tool, examining their application in Moldova, and their prospects for addressing grand corruption. The Billion Dollar Bank Theft through which USD 1 billion was stolen from the country brought about economic crisis and severely damaged Moldova’s image and credibility. The report looks at the implementation of a number of international sanctions regimes that were advocated for to aid Moldova in its fight against kleptocracy. This included civil society campaigning for the introduction of a Global Magnitsky Act in Moldova itself, and the imposition of Magnitsky-style sanctions against Moldovan kleptocrats by the EU and the US. To date, however, little has been adopted.
Read it here.
Sanctions As a Tool For Asset Recovery: Mexico
This research study assesses the current state of play in the use of sanctions as an asset recovery tool, examining their application in Mexico, and their prospects for addressing grand corruption. While Mexico has sufficient regulatory frameworks for the location, seizure, and recovery of assets at the domestic and international levels, until now use of these laws has been sporadic and has only brought modest results. Among others, the report finds that Magnitsky legislation has broadened the scope of individuals who can be sanctioned in the US for corruption in Mexico, however, few Mexican designations have so far been made under the Global Magnitsky Act and the FCPA and Kingpin Act have been to date more relevant for asset recovery to Mexico.
Read it here.
Yemen’s Stolen Assets: Past and Future
Our report looks into the UN sanctions that have been in place since 2014 in Yemen and that freeze the assets of former President Ali Abdallah Saleh and his son Ahmed. During his time in power, Saleh is alleged to have amassed a fortune of between US$32 and $60 billion, transferred abroad through false names and in the form of property, cash, shares, gold and other commodities. It outlines the background to this situation, identifies assets linked to the former President, and maps out options for how Yemen could recovery its stolen money once the civil war ends, as well as steps other governments could already take to return money vital for rebuilding Yemen.
Read it here.
Topic Guide on Illicit Financial Flows
This Guide, prepared in cooperation with the Transparency International Anti-Corruption Heldpesk, aims to provide a comprehensive and updated overview of illicit financial flows(IFFs). It presents the most important international best practices in countering this phenomenon and highlights key-challenges and areas of intervention.The first section deals with the definition of the concept of IFFs andthe conceptual debate around them. It also presents the definition along with the main trends and costs. The second part analyses the corestrategies to fight IFFs and the principal difficulties in their implementation.
Read it here.
Stolen asset recovery between Germany and developing countries
Is Germany a safe haven for corrupt money from developing countries? Are there any prominent asset recovery cases and what is the role of development agencies? Through a review of publicly available information, limited investigative research and expert interviews, this study tries looks at these issues, compiling information on 36 cases with evidence of potentially illicit assets in Germany. It includes in-depth analyses for six of these cases as well as information on assets frozen under 26 sanction regimes, published for the first time. Based on the analysis of this information, this report identifies needs and entry points for technical assistance of German development cooperation when supporting developing countries in asset recovery. Read it here in German and English.
Sanctioning kleptocrats. An assessment of EU misappropriation sanctions
In 2011 and 2014, the EU imposed sanctions on individuals of former regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Ukraine freezing their assets in EU member states. This study analyses the effectiveness of this system as a tool against cross-border corruption and asset recovery. The research shows that while the misappropriation sanctions imposed on individuals in Tunisia, Egypt and Ukraine were certainly successful in showing political support to the new leadership, the success in recovering assets from the EU Member States has been very limited and the application of these sanctions have been inconsistent and opaque. The report suggests several reforms that could be taken up by policy makers to address the limitations of EU-wide sanctions to address grand corruption. Read the study here.
The Stolen Wealth. Opportunities and challenges for civil society in asset recovery
This paper, prepared by CiFAR in cooperation the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, explores the role that civil society organisations, independent journalists and researchers can and should play in this process. Through case studies of five of the most important current cases of cross-border corruption, it outlines how civil society can contribute to the tracing of stolen assets through independent investigations, can ensure the transparent and accountable use of assets once they are returned, and can help the public make sense of the complexities involved in cross-border corruption and asset recovery. Read it here.
The Shadow Economy: Germany and illicit financial flows
Every year, over $1 trillion are lost in developing countries through corruption, tax evasion and other illicit gains. What are illicit financial flows and what is the role of countries from the “Global North”, and in particular Germany, in hiding those assets and what should they do to prevent this? Find out in this comprehensive paper prepared by our group of young activists in Germany. This paper was published in the framework of a BMZ/Engagement Global sponsored project aiming to raise the awareness of illicit financial flows in Germany.
Cross-border Criminality: Illicit Financial Flows and North-South Mafias in Germany
Organised crime has developed over the years creative and powerful ways to exploit the loops in the global financial system to launder their revenues from criminal activity. Millions of dollars are moved every year from the South to the North by Mafias, which has negative impacts both in developing and in “western” countries. Germany, as a major financial hub, plays a big role in this. In this paper, our group of volunteers in Germany analyses these movements and their implications for the Global North, particularly Germany. This paper was published in the framework of a BMZ/Engagement Global sponsored project aiming to raise the awareness of illicit financial flows in Germany.
Forgotten Gold: The Yemen Sanctions
Seven years after the uprising in Yemen and with a brutal civil war still ongoing, the asset freeze against former President Saleh is often forgotten. Our latest report details the asset freeze and provides new information on the status of that freeze in five European countries.
Read it here.
Tax amnesties and asset repatriation programmes
More and more countries use tax amnesty and asset repatriation programmes to push their citizens to declare their assets and bring back them back in exhange of favourable treament. But how effective are they, what counter-effects do they have? We looked at these issues in this study carried out in cooperation with the Transparency International Helpdesk. Read it here.
Public registers of beneficial ownership: the state of play 2017
Countries are moving more and more to public, open data registers of beneficial ownership. These registers are already in place in a number of jurisdictions. We examine these here and draw conclusions on how existing registers should be improved and new ones created.
Anti corruption summit commitments
In May 2016 countries from across the globe came to London and pledged to do more to fight corruption.
A number of those countries committed to fight the theft of public assets and for the accountable and transparent return of those assets.
Those commitments are all here.
Read more here.
Asset recovery in Germany
As one of the world’s largest economies, Germany plays an important role in supporting developing countries to recover stolen assets hidden by corrupt officials abroad. While estimates about stolen assets stored in German bank accounts are not publicly available, anecdotal evidence shows that the country has been attractive to corrupt individuals due to the secrecy of its financial system.