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.


Management and Oversight of Independents Return Funds: International Experiences and Lessons Learned for Venezuela

This report explores international best practices for the oversight of independent return mechanisms, drawing on both principles and examples from other returns. It explores the unique characteristics that the Social Protection Fund will operate in and makes recommendations for transparent, accountable and participatory oversight over its operations and the disbursement of the assets it will control.

Read it here: EN ES


Best Practices for Independent Return Funds: Lessons Learned for Venezuela

Thsi report explores best practice when it comes to establishing an independent return mechanism. Drawing on experiences from Kazakhstan, Equatorial Guinea, Uzbekistan and Nigeria, it discusses how transparency, accountability and participation can be built into return mechanisms and identifies recommendations for the Venezuela fund.

Read it here: EN ES

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The Social Reuse of Recovered Assets in Kenya

The social reuse of recovered assets, when assets are effectively utilized through social projects that address the needs of society, emphasizes the involvement of civil society in decision-making processes and the establishment of clear parameters for asset reuse. This report looks at the growing practice of social reuse as a facet of the management and disposition of recovered assets. It considers how social reuse has been and could be further utilised as a concept in Kenya as a way to build community empowerment while fighting corruption.

Read it here

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Alternative Dispute Resolution & Asset Recovery in Kenya

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as a method used to resolve disputes outside of traditional courtroom litigation has increasingly been used to recover illegally acquired assets. This report looks at how and when ADR has been used as a tool for asset recovery in Kenya. As a country at the forefront of using alternative methods to address anti-corruption cases, it considers the opportunities and challenges using ADR in addressing corruption presents, and what lessons can be drawn for other jurisdictions.

Read it here.

From Sanctions to Investigations

Effectively addressing illicit financial flows depends on anti-corruption investigations and asset recovery. Our report, From Sanctions to Investigations, provides an examination of the intersection of sanctions and anti-corruption investigations, and highlights the critical legal and policy frameworks that govern this process. This report demonstrates the need for policymakers to assess and strengthen the tools available for asset recovery in the context of sanctions. It invites a thorough consideration of anti-corruption strategies with a view to strengthening measures against illicit financial flows.

Read it here.

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Citizen Guide to Asset Recovery in Kenya

This user-friendly and informative guide aims to empower citizens, private sector actors, and civil society organizations to have the knowledge and tools to effectively understand and engage with the asset recovery process in Kenya. The Guide covers: 1) What asset recovery is and how it works in practice; 2) The legal framework enabling the recovery of stolen assets; 3) Relevant institutions engaged in recovering assets and their role in the process; 4) The roles of citizens, the private sector and the media in asset recovery; 5) Details of several successful international asset recovery cases.

Read it here.


Indirect Asset Return 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. The BOTA Foundation, Abacha II, US – Equatorial Guinea and Jersey – Kenya returns are some examples of cases where third parties have been involved in the disposal of funds. They offer an indication into some of the economic, social and political challenges, as well as opportunities, that might arise with returns conducted through the use of third parties.


Read it here.


Reconciliation agreements and asset recovery

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. This report provides an in-depth look into reconciliation agreements as a facet of the anti-corruption architecture and as a potential tool for asset recovery.


Read it here.


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.


Read it here.


Asset Recovery in Kenya

The Kenyan government has been engaged in more recent years in cross-border asset freezing, confiscation, and return of corruption. The abuse of public office for personal gain has been prevalent in Kenya, as indicated by the increased number cases of corruption and asset recovery. While the cases are an indicator of the problem, they also imply improved efforts of anti-corruption agencies and political goodwill to address corruption. This research paper seeks to provide an overview of the current state of play in Kenyan context and recommendations to enhance the progress made.

Read it here.


Best Practices and Challenges in the Management of Recovered Assets

This report aims to fill evidence gaps by analysing approaches and strategies to the management of domestically and internationally recovered assets as a frequently overlooked and underestimated stage asset recovery. Focusing on the African continent and zooming in on the civil society perspective, this report discusses the challenges and opportunities in the promotion of the transparent and accountable management of recovered assets.

Read it here.

Civil Society Organisations & Asset Recovery – A Manual for Action

With this manual, civil society organisations interested in starting work in the asset recovery field or strengthening current work will find concrete tips and ideas identified from interviews generously provided by CSO representatives and other experts familiar with asset recovery and from previous reference publications.

Read it here.


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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.