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.


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.

Read it here in English and German.


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.

Read it here in English and German.


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.

Read more here EN | DE.


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.

Read more on our paper written for the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre and Transparency International here.