May 9, 2017
When the proceeds of corruption are laundered through the UK, it presents a criminal, reputational, and national security risk, as well as a great injustice for the countries from which the funds have been stolen. The UK has an added responsibility arising from its unique status. London’s international reputation has often attracted money launderers who find it easier to mingle their dirty funds in a larger centre with substantial flows of legitimate money.
It is therefore imperative that the UK is able to prevent money laundering and detect, seize and recover those stolen assets that do enter the country. Due to ‘London’s status as a safe haven’ and the resultant high volume of foreign capital that comes in or through the UK, this country has an opportunity to take a pro-active leadership role in the detection and recovery of the proceeds of corruption laundered through this jurisdiction.
At the Anti-Corruption Summit, the UK promised to “work with others to establish a Global Forum for Asset Recovery and provide resources to support it”.
The inaugural meeting of the Forum was co-hosted by the UK and the USA in December 2017, with support from the joint World Bank and UNODC Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR) and focusing on assistance to Nigeria, Ukraine, Tunisia and Sri Lanka.
The Forum aimed to step up international efforts on asset recovery, and at the Summit 20 other countries committed to strengthen or reinforce legislation to ensure stolen assets can be recovered.
According to the UK Anti-Corruption Strategy: 1 Year Update, the principles for transparent and accountable asset return introduced at the Global Forum on Asset Recovery began to be incorporated in 2018 by the UN in its UN Convention Against Corruption experts’ working group.
The UK Anti-Corruption Strategy Year 2 Update states that HM Government “participated in the UNODC led international expert meeting on asset return in May which agreed a set of recommendations which reinforce the GFAR Principles on Asset Recovery.”