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The War against Corruption is a Lost Cause without Robust Measures to Repatriate Stolen Assets to Countries of Origin

The paper discusses the impediments inherent in using anti-corruption laws to repatriate stolen assets to the victim state. It examines both state laws and the international legal frameworks aimed at overcoming these obstacles. The assets in question are accrued by public officials from the proceeds of corruption, money laundering, tax avoidance and other forms of illicit financial transactions in countries where they have been hidden. While less developed countries are often the countries of origin, destination countries of stolen assets tend to be developed Western countries. There is ample evidence showing that the recovery and repatriation of stolen assets to countries of origin is more easily said than done, given the barriers they face. Victim states not only suffer a loss of revenue as a result of economic criminality, but they also incur huge expenses in attempting to recover criminal assets, without any guarantee that they will succeed in doing so.

In essence, this article looks into the generic issues related to asset recovery. It examines the approaches adopted by both common law and civil law jurisdictions in Africa with respect to the repatriation of stolen assets, and explores the practicality of harmonising anti-corruption laws across the African continent, as has been done amongst member states of the European Union.

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