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As attention shifts from traditional foreign aid to private and domestic sources of finance for development, recovering stolen assets is not only a matter of justice but increasingly a development issue in its own right. That’s why organizations like the StAR initiative (a joint effort of the World Bank and UNODC) and NGOs like Transparency International and Global Witness have been making these points and successfully pushing the agenda.
Despite progress, asset recovery remains a tough policy challenge, both ex post (how to bring the wealth back home?) and ex ante (how to prevent future theft?). Thus I’m thrilled to release a new CGD policy paper, What’s Yours Is Mine: New Actors and New Approaches to Asset Recovery in Global Corruption Cases, by consultant (and old friend) Andrew Marshall. While past experience, such as the cases of Nigeria’s Abacha and Haiti’s Duvalier, show how asset recovery can be lengthy and complex, Andy is more optimistic about the future because “more tools, more information and more people with an investigative brief are starting to change the balance of power.” Advances in global media and telecommunications are creating new opportunities:
"Making the existing rule set work better is a valuable goal. There’s no doubt that the search for assets of the deposed Arab rulers got off to a swifter start than in most previous transitions. Changes in the rules have had valuable effects in Nigeria, Peru and other asset recoveries, too. But the rules aren’t always right for the situations that anti-corruption campaigners and others find themselves in. This has led governments, NGOs and private actors to seek other ways forward that go beyond the classic route, which is so heavily reliant on official channels."
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.