The World Bank has unveiled an initiative to help developing countries recover assets stolen by corrupt leaders and officials.
"We at the World Bank, in partnership with the international community, want to help developing countries recover assets that have been stolen by former corrupt leaders," said World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz.
"This is a moral obligation. Recovering even a portion of the stolen assets will help fund development and social programs, or badly-needed infrastructure."
The Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative was discussed yesterday as part of the institution's Governance and Anti-Corruption Strategy in a working session with country delegates and representatives of international agencies.
"The recovery of stolen assets is a practical problem," said Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for International Development of the UK. "This initiative is really timely. It's about each of us playing our part."
The cross-border flow of proceeds from criminal activity, corruption and tax evasion is estimated at US$1-1.6 trillion - half of this from developing and transition economies. Corrupt money associated with bribes received by public officials from developing and transition countries is estimated at US$20-40 billion.
The World Bank is pursuing the StAR Initiative jointly with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Proposals on the table for further discussion include: Persuading all jurisdictions to ratify and implement the UN Convention Against Corruption; helping developing countries build capacity for requesting mutual legal assistance for asset recovery; and developing partnerships to share information and experience.
In recent years, nearly 4,000 corrupt Chinese officials fled overseas with more than US$50 billion of illicit money.
(China Daily April 17, 2007)