Washington, February 29, 2008 —The World Bank Group and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today renewed their commitment to helping developing countries recover billion of dollars of looted funds.
On Friday, World Bank Group President, Robert B. Zoellick, Managing Director, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the UNODC Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa, presided over the first meeting of Friends of the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), an advisory committee of high profile anti-corruption fighters from around the world. The group is being chaired by Jordanian Minister of State, Muhyieddeen Touq.
"We are strongly committed to making the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative succeed," said Danny Leipziger, World Bank Vice-President for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM), the institution's network responsible for the initiative. "Recovering assets is a difficult task, so the experience and advice from experts will be key in achieving our goal."
"This alliance between the World Bank and the UNODC, the custodian of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), will help countries tackle the problem," said Minister Touq. "If the (stolen) money could be used for development, it would be helping a lot of people."
StAR was launched last September, in partnership with the UNODC, to help developing countries recover assets stolen by corrupt leaders, help invest them in effective development programs and combat safe havens internationally.
Asset theft is a development problem of the first magnitude. It is estimated that corrupt leaders of poor countries skim as much as US$40 billion per year -- a figure which represents 40 percent of annual official development assistance-- and stash their looted funds overseas.
That's why StAR seeks to strengthen cooperation between developed and developing countries, and between the public and private sector, to ensure that industrialized nations and financial centers don't provide safe heavens for the stolen money.
According to World Bank Group estimates, every US$100 million restituted to a developing country in Africa could fund 3.3 to 10 million insecticide-treated bed nets; or first-line treatment against HIV/AIDS for over 600,000 people for one year; or 50 to 100 million ACT treatments for malaria; or full immunizations for 4 million children.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, World Bank Managing Director
StAR efforts include:
Helping developing countries build capacity to recover assets and stem new outflows.
Working with major financial centers to lower barriers to recovery of stolen assets as well as to detect and prevent their concealment.
Becoming a source of knowledge and expertise on trends and best practices in asset recovery.
Offering services to help monitor, on a voluntary basis, the use of recovered funds.
Friends of the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative
Muhyieddeen Touq, Ministry Affairs, Jordan
Minister of State for Prime
Former Prosecutor General of Japan
Senior Advisor Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation
Attorney Law Monfrini Crettol & Associés, Switzerland
Deputy Assistant Attorney General US Justice Department - Criminal Division
Former Attorney General of Peru
Sultan Bin Nasser Al Suwaidi
Governor, Central Bank, United Arab Emirates
Governor, Eastern Caribbean Central Bank
Director of Public International Law Swiss Federal Department for Foreign Affairs
Executive Director UK Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA)
Chair, Economic and Financial Crime Commission Nigeria