Asset recovery for transformative change (2021-2023)

Focus countries: Kenya, Mexico, Moldova, Mozambique, Brazil, Angola, and Global

Transnational corruption is a global issue for development and democratic change

The World Bank estimates up to $40 billion per year is stolen from the Global South and hidden in the North. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a high likelihood that this problem will only increase.

Investigations into potential corruption within emergency stimulus packages are already ongoing in some countries, including Kenya. There is the further risk that leaders use the pandemic to undermine important democratic and anti-corruption safeguards, with concerns already raised over the limitations placed on freedom of information laws in Brazil.

It is vital that civil society is able to keep identifying corruption and advocating for transparency and accountability in the recovery of stolen assets and is able to use this moment and the momentum of asset recovery more generally to push for transformative change that strengthens democratic norms and oversight of public officials and institutions.

CiFAR’s response

Our overall goal with this project was that civil society globally is more informed, networked, and able to play its role in the transparent and accountable recovery of stolen assets and in preventing the theft of public money.

We believe it is important to understand a) what works to deter cross-border kleptocracy and to strengthen tools that do so, and b) how the exposure of transnational corruption cases and the return of ill-gotten gains can be used by civil soeciety to build accountable, transparent, democratic structures that can help prevent future kleptocratic practices.

With this project, we aimed to

  1. Develop a deeper, evidence-based understanding of three new tools being introduced to address cross-border kleptocracy: unexplained wealth orders, reconciliation agreements, and third-agency funding schemes
  2. Expand our Sanctions Watch website to other jurisdictions implementing sanctions for corruption: the US, UK, Switzerland, and Canada
  3. Strategically support civil society in Kenya, Mexico, Moldova, Mozambique, Brazil to develop their asset recovery work, use ongoing cases and new tools for transformative change, and begin new engagements in Angola and Brazil
  4. Convene the first Global South CSO forum on asset recovery to discuss experiences, priorities, and improve joint South-South and South-North work on systemic reform.

Funding of the project