Oliver Stolpe (r), Senior Advisor, Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative, and Robert Wallner (l), Liechtenstein's Prosecutor General, at an OSCE seminar on identifying, restraining and recovering stolen assets in the OSCE region, Vienna, 3 September 2012. (OSCE/Ursula Froese)
VIENNA, 3 September 2012 - The need for greater exchange of expertise and international co-operation in identifying and seizing stolen assets was highlighted by participants at a three-day OSCE seminar that started today in Vienna.
The seminar is a joint initiative of the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative of the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The Permanent Representative of Ireland to the OSCE Ambassador Eoin O’Leary, opening the event on behalf of the OSCE Chairmanship, said: “Despite an increasing number of measures and initiatives taken, there is unfortunately still a huge gap between estimates of assets stolen and those that are being actually repatriated.”
“International asset recovery attempts are complicated by the fact that stolen assets are unlikely to remain in the country from which they were stolen and are often concealed in foreign jurisdictions,” he added, urging states to standardize provisions in their laws to facilitate asset recovery across borders. He also highlighted the experience of Ireland’s Criminal Assets Bureau and emphasized its successes due to strong international co-operation.
Goran Svilanović, the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, said: “Corruption and asset theft are now recognized to be among the world’s greatest challenges that impair economies, weaken democracy, fuel public distrust and undermine rule of law,” adding that “fighting corruption should be in the interest of every government as a means to enable sustainable development, ensure social peace and avoid internal conflicts.”
Dimosthenis Chrysikos, Criminal Justice and Crime Prevention Officer, Corruption and Economic Crime Branch at UNODC said: “What is really important is the development of cumulative knowledge for capacity-building purposes and the promotion of ways and means of building confidence, including through facilitating the exchange of information and ideas on the expeditious return of assets and encouraging co-operation between requesting and requested States in the OSCE region.”
Experts and senior officials from OSCE participating States and Partners for Co-operation that deal with anti-corruption and anti-money laundering as well as representatives from financial institutions are attending the event. They will exchange experience on asset recovery cases and issues related to legal instruments, the identification of risk groups, asset tracing, and international and regional co-operation frameworks. The seminar will conclude on Wednesday, 5 September with a political segment that will examine how recommendations from the expert discussions can be turned into increased political commitment and multilateral co-operation.