By Ikenna Asomba

As part of activities marking the International Anti-Corruption Day on December 9, as well as the United States government-wide effort to combat corruption and facilitate asset recovery, the United States is co-hosting with the United Kingdom the inaugural Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C. from December 4-6.

The U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered the opening remarks at GFAR on Monday afternoon, said a statement on the website of the U.S. Department of State.

GFAR was announced at the 2016 London Anti-Corruption Summit. The forum aims to facilitate the recovery of stolen assets from four countries – Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Ukraine – by convening more than 150 law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and financial center representatives to discuss ongoing asset recovery cases related to the four focus countries. Approximately 20 countries are expected to participate.

The United States is committed to fighting corruption internationally by cooperating with foreign partners to trace and recover public assets stolen by kleptocratic regimes and to prevent corruption before it starts.

In addition to the corruption and money laundering prosecutions and asset recovery cases brought by the Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners, the State Department and USAID support a wide range of foreign assistance programming to counter corruption, including: building capacity of foreign governments to create stronger laws and more effective institutions; investing in the ability of civil society and journalists to hold governments accountable; supporting investigations and prosecutions, for corruption offenses; and promoting measures to prevent corruption, foster oversight, and promote government integrity and transparency.

These efforts are critical to addressing the corrosive effect corruption has on global security and prosperity.

This event is part of the Department of State’s commemoration of International Anti-Corruption Day on December 9.

Organization of GFAR

GFAR builds upon the previous experiences of the Arab Forum on Asset Recovery (AFAR) and the Ukraine Forum on Asset Recovery (UFAR). It will be structured along similar lines, with a high-level opening session, substantive technical workstreams to share best practices and provide technical training to asset recovery practitioners, and emphasis on parallel bilateral and multijurisdictional meetings for case coordination. It is also foreseen to include civil society participation in the opening and plenary sessions, appropriate open technical sessions, and specific sessions organized by civil society organizations.

The target audience includes policymakers and practitioners from the four priority countries, with delegations sufficiently staffed to be able to cover all necessary meetings.

Delegations will include operational staff (e.g., financial investigators, police, prosecutors, judges, central authorities) with direct responsibility for the asset recovery cases to be discussed.

Other participants include relevant jurisdictions from which the four priority countries have requested the return of assets or have initiated cases and require cooperation, or which may have case-relevant information.

Similarly, delegations will include those national authorities who are directly involved in the cases requiring attention.

Other interested countries and organizations are invited based on their ability to contribute to the substantive workstreams.

GFAR was established as an outcome of the 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit, hosted by the United Kingdom. The Summit communiqué points to the provisions of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) that call for the proceeds of corruption to be identified, seized, confiscated and returned.

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