Asset Recovery Fundamentals

Even if corruption is identified and exposed, victims rarely recover all the assets that have been stolen. This is usually because of one simple reason: the assets cannot be found. To benefit from gains of their corrupt activities, the perpetrators of such offences will usually need to insert these assets into the financial system. Money laundering and asset recovery go hand-in-hand. Money laundering is the criminal activity that a person, following the commission of a predicate offence, commits in order to hide the true origin, nature and ownership of their criminal proceeds. Asset recovery, on the other hand, is the action investigative and prosecutorial authorities conduct to trace those unlawful assets, seize them from the perpetrators and restore them to their rightful owner. Consequently, these perpetrators have become exceptionally skilled at laundering their criminally acquired assets through financial channels, usually across multiple jurisdictions, in order to disguise the illegitimate origins of their assets.

Asset recovery thus refers to the process by which these proceeds of crime are identified, traced, seized, confiscated and returned to their rightful owners (which may include states, state owned enterprises as well as private individuals or private legal entities). The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) explicitly states asset recovery as a fundamental principle of the Convention (Article 51, UNCAC) and dedicates an entire chapter to asset recovery (Chapter V) In addition, the Conference of the States Parties to UNCAC established an open-ended intergovernmental working group on asset recovery that has met regularly since 2007.* This chapter outlines, inter alia, measures to be taken for the prevention and detection of transfers of proceeds of crime (Article 52); measures for direct recovery of property (Article 53); mechanisms for recovery of property through international cooperation in confiscation and international cooperation for purposes of confiscation (Articles 54 and 55); and measures for the return and disposal of assets (Article 57). Several articles in other chapters also relate to asset recovery and the role of CSOs. Relevant sections relate to participation of society ( Article 13); prevention and criminalization of money-laundering (Articles 14 and 23); protection of reporting persons- or whistle-blowers (Article 33); compensation for damage (Article 35; cooperation between national authorities and the private sector (Article 39); bank secrecy (Article 40); and, mutual legal assistance (Article 46).

The four phases of asset recovery

The pre-investigative Phase

An investigator will receive information from a source about a crime and/or particular stolen assets, and will work to gather further intelligence to verify the authenticity of this information. Financial intelligence in particular plays a critical role at this stage in ascertaining the preliminary information required to confirm the actual theft and movement of assets, and their potential locations. The key question to be answered in this phase is whether or not an offence has taken place and who has committed it.

The investigative phase

The proceeds of crime are identified, located, frozen and evidence in respect of ownership of these assets is collated to allow for a seizure order to subsequently be made.

This is the stage during which investigative and prosecutorial authorities in both the requesting and requested jurisdictions need to choose the appropriate tool(s) to achieve the desired results (e.g., evidence gathering, freezing or seizure of assets). It is important to understand that this phase relates to both the original offence as well as the actions taken to launder the proceeds derived from this original (predicate) offence. The investigative stage is a double-faceted process that aims to both locate and freeze stolen funds, as well as to link them to the commission of an illegal act. Thus in this stage it is important to focus on both establishing sufficient evidence of the criminality of the original action that generated the assets in question as well as on unraveling the specific techniques of money laundering that were adopted by the perpetrators to launder these assets.

Key questions:

  • Who (individuals, companies) was involved in the commission of the offence?
  • What was the damage of the offence, i.e. what was taken or what proceeds of crime were generated?
  • When did the offence take place?
  • Where did the offence take place? Where were the proceeds of crime transferred to, and where are they located now?
  • Why did the perpetrators commit the offence? What was the motive behind the commission of this offence?
  • How was the offence committed? How were the proceeds of crime generated? How were they transferred?

The judicial phase

Takes place when the investigation is completed and referred for trial.

The judicial phase includes the trial and then issuance of the judgment against the persons identified in the previous phase. In the event that the accused are convicted, the court hands down a final decision for the legal confiscation of assets they have stolen in connection with the criminal offence committed. When all avenues of appeal have been exhausted, this phase marks the transition from the phase of “frozen assets” to the phase of “confiscated assets”. In order to confiscate the assets in the jurisdiction(s) in which they have been found, the judicial authorities of the requesting jurisdiction must work closely with their counterparts, to ensure that an appropriate course of action is taken (e.g., enforcement of the confiscation order from the requesting country or obtaining a local confiscation order in the requested jurisdiction). It is important to note that while this section predominantly relates to criminal procedures, judicial procedures surrounding civil actions as well as non-conviction based forfeiture proceedings are also a viable avenue to take at this stage, depending on the individual circumstances of the case at hand (for more information please refer to the resources noted at the end of this section).

The questions to be answered in this phase (in particular by a judiciary) include whether enough persuasive evidence has been collated and whether the rule of law has been observed in the investigation phase.

The return phase

Property is actually returned to the rightful owner and disposed of (taking into account any international asset sharing obligations and rights of bona fide third parties).

The questions to be addressed in this phase will generally include determining the amount of assets that should be returned and the ways in which these assets should be disposed of.

Conclusions

No matter how high the degree of political will is, the process of recovering stolen assets is immensely intricate, time-consuming and resource intensive. The term asset recovery therefore encompasses the series of actions undertaken in order to trace, seize and confiscate and return stolen assets. This process is complicated at every phase of the asset recovery process, not only because the perpetrators of the criminal offences are attempting to hide the true nature, origin and ownership of the stolen assets, through money laundering techniques, but also because it requires active communication and close coordination between both the relevant authorities in the jurisdiction where the criminal offences have been committed, and between these and their foreign counterparts, where evidence or assets may be found.

This is because skilled money launderers adopt numerous strategies to conceal the origins of assets, and to transform them into numerous forms including hard currency, electronic funds, tangible and intangible property, corporate structures and shareholdings, to name just a few. They will transfer and spread these assets across multiple jurisdictions under the name of multiple owners to further disguise the true nature of these assets and make it increasingly difficult for state law enforcement agencies to track, trace and legally seize them. This multijurisdictional element of money laundering can particularly frustrate asset recovery efforts as it gives rise to several cross-border related hurdles which range from potentially conflicting legislative and procedural differences to language inconsistencies, among others. This is the principal reason why jurisdictions need to begin active communication with one another early on, beginning at the pre-investigative phase of the asset recovery process (as indicated above).

Consequently, if different states have trouble working together efficiently it will be extremely difficult to effectively untangle a money launderer’s web of deceit. Moreover, even when states do work together effectively, cross-border co-ordination between States can be extremely time consuming, which can give criminals additional opportunities to stay one step ahead of law enforcement agencies. For a more detailed description of the multiple barriers to asset recovery, see “Barriers to Asset Recovery” by the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (2011), at http://star.worldbank.org/star/publication/barriers-asset-recovery * Another factor, which often hampers asset recovery efforts, relates to when the person who committed the corrupt acts is deceased or has fled from justice. As a response, many jurisdictions now have the so-called non-conviction based forfeiture (NCB): these proceedings are initiated against the proceeds of crime themselves, and not against the person under investigation. The immediate consequence of initiating NCB forfeiture proceedings is that the level of proof is lower when compared to a criminal prosecution, and that there is no need to convict the criminal.

In light of these barriers, active communication and co-ordination internally and internationally is the crux of the asset recovery process. No formal action that will directly or indirectly impact intelligence gathering, investigation, prosecution or adjudication of an asset recovery case should be taken by any of the agencies involved alone, without prior consultation and discussion of the risks and mitigating factors with their national and international counterparts. This holds particularly true when countries need to issue or to process a request for mutual legal assistance.

The return of confiscated assets is of practical importance. In particular, it is widely recognised that the recovery of stolen assets could provide essential resources for the financing of public services and investments in infrastructure and other programmes aimed at enhancing social and economic development. In addition, the recovery of stolen assets is seen as a deterrent to corruption as it fundamentally undermines the key incentive for corruption – the assets which are stolen. It is for these reasons that it is imperative that all concerned actors – States, international organisations, the private sector and in particular financial institutions, and CSOs – understand their respective roles, duties and responsibilities in relation to the recovery of stolen assets, and seek to collaborate and mutually support each other as best possible.

Resources

For further detail of the fundamentals of asset recovery refer to:

UNCAC articles

Find the full UNCAC text as PDF in:

The next section lists the UNCAC articles mentioned in the text above.

Article 13: Participation of society

  1. Each State Party shall take appropriate measures, within its means and in accordance with fundamental principles of its domestic law, to promote the active participation of individuals and groups outside the public sector, such as civil society, non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations, in the prevention of and the fight against corruption and to raise public awareness regarding the existence, causes and gravity of and the threat posed by corruption. This participation should be strengthened by such measures as:
    1. Enhancing the transparency of and promoting the contribution of the public to decision-making processes;
    2. Ensuring that the public has effective access to information;
    3. Undertaking public information activities that contribute to non-tolerance of corruption, as well as public education programmes, including school and university curricula;
    4. Respecting, promoting and protecting the freedom to seek, receive, publish and disseminate information concerning corruption. That freedom may be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided for by law and are necessary:
      1. For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
      2. For the protection of national security or ordre public or of public health or morals.
  2. Each State Party shall take appropriate measures to ensure that the relevant anti-corruption bodies referred to in this Convention are known to the public and shall provide access to such bodies, where appropriate, for the reporting, including anonymously, of any incidents that may be considered to constitute an offence established in accordance with this Convention.

Article 14: Measures to prevent money-laundering

  1. Each State Party shall:
    1. Institute a comprehensive domestic regulatory and supervisory regime for banks and non-bank financial institutions, including natural or legal persons that provide formal or informal services for the transmission of money or value and, where appropriate, other bodies particularly susceptible to money-laundering, within its competence, in order to deter and detect all forms of money-laundering, which regime shall emphasize requirements for customer and, where appropriate, beneficial owner identification, record-keeping and the reporting of suspicious transactions;
    2. Without prejudice to article 46 of this Convention, ensure that administrative, regulatory, law enforcement and other authorities dedicated to combating money-laundering (including, where appropriate under domestic law, judicial authorities) have the ability to cooperate and exchange information at the national and international levels within the conditions prescribed by its domestic law and, to that end, shall consider the establishment of a financial intelligence unit to serve as a national centre for the collection, analysis and dissemination of information regarding potential money-laundering.
  2. States Parties shall consider implementing feasible measures to detect and monitor the movement of cash and appropriate negotiable instruments across their borders, subject to safeguards to ensure proper use of information and without impeding in any way the movement of legitimate capital. Such measures may include a requirement that individuals and businesses report the cross-border transfer of substantial quantities of cash and appropriate negotiable instruments.
  3. States Parties shall consider implementing appropriate and feasible measures to require financial institutions, including money remitters:
    1. To include on forms for the electronic transfer of funds and related messages accurate and meaningful information on the originator;
    2. To maintain such information throughout the payment chain;
    3. To apply enhanced scrutiny to transfers of funds that do not contain complete information on the originator.
  4. In establishing a domestic regulatory and supervisory regime under the terms of this article, and without prejudice to any other article of this Convention, States Parties are called upon to use as a guideline the relevant initiatives of regional, interregional and multilateral organizations against money-laundering.
  5. States Parties shall endeavour to develop and promote global, regional, subregional and bilateral cooperation among judicial, law enforcement and financial regulatory authorities in order to combat money-laundering.

Article 23: Laundering of proceeds of crime

  1. Each State Party shall adopt, in accordance with fundamental principles of its domestic law, such legislative and other measures as may be necessary to establish as criminal offences, when committed intentionally:
      1. The conversion or transfer of property, knowing that such property is the proceeds of crime, for the purpose of concealing or disguising the illicit origin of the property or of helping any person who is involved in the commission of the predicate offence to evade the legal consequences of his or her action;
      2. The concealment or disguise of the true nature, source, location, disposition, movement or ownership of or rights with respect to property, knowing that such property is the proceeds of crime;
    1. Subject to the basic concepts of its legal system:
      1. The acquisition, possession or use of property, knowing, at the time of receipt, that such property is the proceeds of crime;
      2. Participation in, association with or conspiracy to commit, attempts to commit and aiding, abetting, facilitating and counselling the commission of any of the offences established in accordance with this article.
  2. For purposes of implementing or applying paragraph 1 of this article:
    1. Each State Party shall seek to apply paragraph 1 of this article to the widest range of predicate offences;
    2. Each State Party shall include as predicate offences at a minimum a comprehensive range of criminal offences established in accordance with this Convention;
    3. For the purposes of subparagraph (b) above, predicate offences shall include offences committed both within and outside the jurisdiction of the State Party in question. However, offences committed outside the jurisdiction of a State Party shall constitute predicate offences only when the relevant conduct is a criminal offence under the domestic law of the State where it is committed and would be a criminal offence under the domestic law of the State Party implementing or applying this article had it been committed there;
    4. Each State Party shall furnish copies of its laws that give effect to this article and of any subsequent changes to such laws or a description thereof to the Secretary-General of the United Nations;
    5. If required by fundamental principles of the domestic law of a State Party, it may be provided that the offences set forth in paragraph 1 of this article do not apply to the persons who committed the predicate offence.

Article 33: Protection of reporting persons

Each State Party shall consider incorporating into its domestic legal system appropriate measures to provide protection against any unjustified treatment for any person who reports in good faith and on reasonable grounds to the competent authorities any facts concerning offences established in accordance with this Convention.

Article 35: Compensation for damage

Each State Party shall take such measures as may be necessary, in accordance with principles of its domestic law, to ensure that entities or persons who have suffered damage as a result of an act of corruption have the right to initiate legal proceedings against those responsible for that damage in order to obtain compensation.

Article 39: Cooperation between national authorities and the private sector

  1. Each State Party shall take such measures as may be necessary to encourage, in accordance with its domestic law, cooperation between national investigating and prosecuting authorities and entities of the private sector, in particular financial institutions, relating to matters involving the commission of offences established in accordance with this Convention.
  2. Each State Party shall consider encouraging its nationals and other persons with a habitual residence in its territory to report to the national investigating and prosecuting authorities the commission of an offence established in accordance with this Convention.

Article 40: Bank secrecy

Each State Party shall ensure that, in the case of domestic criminal investigations of offences established in accordance with this Convention, there are appropriate mechanisms available within its domestic legal system to overcome obstacles that may arise out of the application of bank secrecy laws.

Article 46: Mutual legal assistance

  1. States Parties shall afford one another the widest measure of mutual legal assistance in investigations, prosecutions and judicial proceedings in relation to the offences covered by this Convention.
  2. Mutual legal assistance shall be afforded to the fullest extent possible under relevant laws, treaties, agreements and arrangements of the requested State Party with respect to investigations, prosecutions and judicial proceedings in relation to the offences for which a legal person may be held liable in accordance with article 26 of this Convention in the requesting State Party.
  3. Mutual legal assistance to be afforded in accordance with this article may be requested for any of the following purposes:
    1. Taking evidence or statements from persons;
    2. Effecting service of judicial documents;
    3. Executing searches and seizures, and freezing;
    4. Examining objects and sites;
    5. Providing information, evidentiary items and expert evaluations;
    6. Providing originals or certified copies of relevant documents and records, including government, bank, financial, corporate or business records;
    7. Identifying or tracing proceeds of crime, property, instrumentalities or other things for evidentiary purposes;
    8. Facilitating the voluntary appearance of persons in the requesting State Party;
    9. Any other type of assistance that is not contrary to the domestic law of the requested State Party;
    10. Identifying, freezing and tracing proceeds of crime in accordance with the provisions of chapter V of this Convention;
    11. The recovery of assets, in accordance with the provisions of chapter V of this Convention.
  4. Without prejudice to domestic law, the competent authorities of a State Party may, without prior request, transmit information relating to criminal matters to a competent authority in another State Party where they believe that such information could assist the authority in undertaking or successfully concluding inquiries and criminal proceedings or could result in a request formulated by the latter State Party pursuant to this Convention.
  5. The transmission of information pursuant to paragraph 4 of this article shall be without prejudice to inquiries and criminal proceedings in the State of the competent authorities providing the information. The competent authorities receiving the information shall comply with a request that said information remain confidential, even temporarily, or with restrictions on its use. However, this shall not prevent the receiving State Party from disclosing in its proceedings information that is exculpatory to an accused person. In such a case, the receiving State Party shall notify the transmitting State Party prior to the disclosure and, if so requested, consult with the transmitting State Party. If, in an exceptional case, advance notice is not possible, the receiving State Party shall inform the transmitting State Party of the disclosure without delay.
  6. The provisions of this article shall not affect the obligations under any other treaty, bilateral or multilateral, that governs or will govern, in whole or in part, mutual legal assistance.
  7. Paragraphs 9 to 29 of this article shall apply to requests made pursuant to this article if the States Parties in question are not bound by a treaty of mutual legal assistance. If those States Parties are bound by such a treaty, the corresponding provisions of that treaty shall apply unless the States Parties agree to apply paragraphs 9 to 29 of this article in lieu thereof. States Parties are strongly encouraged to apply those paragraphs if they facilitate cooperation.
  8. 8. States Parties shall not decline to render mutual legal assistance pursuant to this article on the ground of bank secrecy.
    1. A requested State Party, in responding to a request for assistance pursuant to this article in the absence of dual criminality, shall take into account the purposes of this Convention, as set forth in article 1;
    2. States Parties may decline to render assistance pursuant to this article on the ground of absence of dual criminality. However, a requested State Party shall, where consistent with the basic concepts of its legal system, render assistance that does not involve coercive action. Such assistance may be refused when requests involve matters of a de minimis nature or matters for which the cooperation or assistance sought is available under other provisions of this Convention;
    3. Each State Party may consider adopting such measures as may be necessary to enable it to provide a wider scope of assistance pursuant to this article in the absence of dual criminality.
  9. A person who is being detained or is serving a sentence in the territory of one State Party whose presence in another State Party is requested for purposes of identification, testimony or otherwise providing assistance in obtaining evidence for investigations, prosecutions or judicial proceedings in relation to offences covered by this Convention may be transferred if the following conditions are met:
    1. The person freely gives his or her informed consent;
    2. The competent authorities of both States Parties agree, subject to such conditions as those States Parties may deem appropriate.
  10. For the purposes of paragraph 10 of this article:
    1. The State Party to which the person is transferred shall have the authority and obligation to keep the person transferred in custody, unless otherwise requested or authorized by the State Party from which the person was transferred;
    2. (b) The State Party to which the person is transferred shall without delay implement its obligation to return the person to the custody of the State Party from which the person was transferred as agreed beforehand, or as otherwise agreed, by the competent authorities of both States Parties;
    3. The State Party to which the person is transferred shall not require the State Party from which the person was transferred to initiate extradition proceedings for the return of the person;
    4. The person transferred shall receive credit for service of the sentence being served in the State from which he or she was transferred for time spent in the custody of the State Party to which he or she was transferred.
  11. Unless the State Party from which a person is to be transferred in accordance with paragraphs 10 and 11 of this article so agrees, that person, whatever his or her nationality, shall not be prosecuted, detained, punished or subjected to any other restriction of his or her personal liberty in the territory of the State to which that person is transferred in respect of acts, omissions or convictions prior to his or her departure from the territory of the State from which he or she was transferred.
  12. Each State Party shall designate a central authority that shall have the responsibility and power to receive requests for mutual legal assistance and either to execute them or to transmit them to the competent authorities for execution. Where a State Party has a special region or territory with a separate system of mutual legal assistance, it may designate a distinct central authority that shall have the same function for that region or territory. Central authorities shall ensure the speedy and proper execution or transmission of the requests received. Where the central authority transmits the request to a competent authority for execution, it shall encourage the speedy and proper execution of the request by the competent authority. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall be notified of the central authority designated for this purpose at the time each State Party deposits its instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval of or accession to this Convention. Requests for mutual legal assistance and any communication related thereto shall be transmitted to the central authorities designated by the States Parties. This requirement shall be without prejudice to the right of a State Party to require that such requests and communications be addressed to it through diplomatic channels and, in urgent circumstances, where the States Parties agree, through the International Criminal Police Organization, if possible.
  13. Requests shall be made in writing or, where possible, by any means capable of producing a written record, in a language acceptable to the requested State Party, under conditions allowing that State Party to establish authenticity. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall be notified of the language or languages acceptable to each State Party at the time it deposits its instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval of or accession to this Convention. In urgent circumstances and where agreed by the States Parties, requests may be made orally but shall be confirmed in writing forthwith.
  14. A request for mutual legal assistance shall contain:
    1. The identity of the authority making the request;
    2. The subject matter and nature of the investigation, prosecution or judicial proceeding to which the request relates and the name and functions of the authority conducting the investigation, prosecution or judicial proceeding;
    3. A summary of the relevant facts, except in relation to requests for the purpose of service of judicial documents;
    4. A description of the assistance sought and details of any particular procedure that the requesting State Party wishes to be followed;
    5. Where possible, the identity, location and nationality of any person concerned; and
    6. The purpose for which the evidence, information or action is sought.
  15. The requested State Party may request additional information when it appears necessary for the execution of the request in accordance with its domestic law or when it can facilitate such execution.
  16. A request shall be executed in accordance with the domestic law of the requested State Party and, to the extent not contrary to the domestic law of the requested State Party and where possible, in accordance with the procedures specified in the request.
  17. Wherever possible and consistent with fundamental principles of domestic law, when an individual is in the territory of a State Party and has to be heard as a witness or expert by the judicial authorities of another State Party, the first State Party may, at the request of the other, permit the hearing to take place by video conference if it is not possible or desirable for the individual in question to appear in person in the territory of the requesting State Party. States Parties may agree that the hearing shall be conducted by a judicial authority of the requesting State Party and attended by a judicial authority of the requested State Party.
  18. The requesting State Party shall not transmit or use information or evidence furnished by the requested State Party for investigations, prosecutions or judicial proceedings other than those stated in the request without the prior consent of the requested State Party. Nothing in this paragraph shall prevent the requesting State Party from disclosing in its proceedings information or evidence that is exculpatory to an accused person. In the latter case, the requesting State Party shall notify the requested State Party prior to the disclosure and, if so requested, consult with the requested State Party. If, in an exceptional case, advance notice is not possible, the requesting State Party shall inform the requested State Party of the disclosure without delay.
  19. The requesting State Party may require that the requested State Party keep confidential the fact and substance of the request, except to the extent necessary to execute the request. If the requested State Party cannot comply with the requirement of confidentiality, it shall promptly inform the requesting State Party.
  20. Mutual legal assistance may be refused:
    1. If the request is not made in conformity with the provisions of this article;
    2. If the requested State Party considers that execution of the request is likely to prejudice its sovereignty, security, ordre public or other essential interests;
    3. If the authorities of the requested State Party would be prohibited by its domestic law from carrying out the action requested with regard to any similar offence, had it been subject to investigation, prosecution or judicial proceedings under their own jurisdiction;
    4. If it would be contrary to the legal system of the requested State Party relating to mutual legal assistance for the request to be granted.
  21. States Parties may not refuse a request for mutual legal assistance on the sole ground that the offence is also considered to involve fiscal matters.
  22. Reasons shall be given for any refusal of mutual legal assistance.
  23. The requested State Party shall execute the request for mutual legal assistance as soon as possible and shall take as full account as possible of any deadlines suggested by the requesting State Party and for which reasons are given, preferably in the request. The requesting State Party may make reasonable requests for information on the status and progress of measures taken by the requested State Party to satisfy its request. The requested State Party shall respond to reasonable requests by the requesting State Party on the status, and progress in its handling, of the request. The requesting State Party shall promptly inform the requested State Party when the assistance sought is no longer required.
  24. Mutual legal assistance may be postponed by the requested State Party on the ground that it interferes with an ongoing investigation, prosecution or judicial proceeding.
  25. Before refusing a request pursuant to paragraph 21 of this article or postponing its execution pursuant to paragraph 25 of this article, the requested State Party shall consult with the requesting State Party to consider whether assistance may be granted subject to such terms and conditions as it deems necessary. If the requesting State Party accepts assistance subject to those conditions, it shall comply with the conditions.
  26. Without prejudice to the application of paragraph 12 of this article, a witness, expert or other person who, at the request of the requesting State Party, consents to give evidence in a proceeding or to assist in an investigation, prosecution or judicial proceeding in the territory of the requesting State Party shall not be prosecuted, detained, punished or subjected to any other restriction of his or her personal liberty in that territory in respect of acts, omissions or convictions prior to his or her departure from the territory of the requested State Party. Such safe conduct shall cease when the witness, expert or other person having had, for a period of fifteen consecutive days or for any period agreed upon by the States Parties from the date on which he or she has been officially informed that his or her presence is no longer required by the judicial authorities, an opportunity of leaving, has nevertheless remained voluntarily in the territory of the requesting State Party or, having left it, has returned of his or her own free will.
  27. The ordinary costs of executing a request shall be borne by the requested State Party, unless otherwise agreed by the States Parties concerned. If expenses of a substantial or extraordinary nature are or will be required to fulfil the request, the States Parties shall consult to determine the terms and conditions under which the request will be executed, as well as the manner in which the costs shall be borne.
  28. The requested State Party:
    1. Shall provide to the requesting State Party copies of government records, documents or information in its possession that under its domestic law are available to the general public;
    2. May, at its discretion, provide to the requesting State Party in whole, in part or subject to such conditions as it deems appropriate, copies of any government records, documents or information in its possession that under its domestic law are not available to the general public.
  29. States Parties shall consider, as may be necessary, the possibility of concluding bilateral or multilateral agreements or arrangements that would serve the purposes of, give practical effect to or enhance the provisions of this article.

Article 51: General provision

The return of assets pursuant to this chapter is a fundamental principle of this Convention, and States Parties shall afford one another the widest measure of cooperation and assistance in this regard.

Article 52: Prevention and detection of transfers of proceeds of crime

  1. Without prejudice to article 14 of this Convention, each State Party shall take such measures as may be necessary, in accordance with its domestic law, to require financial institutions within its jurisdiction to verify the identity of customers, to take reasonable steps to determine the identity of beneficial owners of funds deposited into high-value accounts and to conduct enhanced scrutiny of accounts sought or maintained by or on behalf of individuals who are, or have been, entrusted with prominent public functions and their family members and close associates. Such enhanced scrutiny shall be reasonably designed to detect suspicious transactions for the purpose of reporting to competent authorities and should not be so construed as to discourage or prohibit financial institutions from doing business with any legitimate customer.
  2. In order to facilitate implementation of the measures provided for in paragraph 1 of this article, each State Party, in accordance with its domestic law and inspired by relevant initiatives of regional, interregional and multilateral organizations against money-laundering, shall:
    1. Issue advisories regarding the types of natural or legal person to whose accounts financial institutions within its jurisdiction will be expected to apply enhanced scrutiny, the types of accounts and transactions to which to pay particular attention and appropriate account-opening, maintenance and recordkeeping measures to take concerning such accounts; and
    2. Where appropriate, notify financial institutions within its jurisdiction, at the request of another State Party or on its own initiative, of the identity of particular natural or legal persons to whose accounts such institutions will be expected to apply enhanced scrutiny, in addition to those whom the financial institutions may otherwise identify.
  3. In the context of paragraph 2 (a) of this article, each State Party shall implement measures to ensure that its financial institutions maintain adequate records, over an appropriate period of time, of accounts and transactions involving the persons mentioned in paragraph 1 of this article, which should, as a minimum, contain information relating to the identity of the customer as well as, as far as possible, of the beneficial owner.
  4. With the aim of preventing and detecting transfers of proceeds of offences established in accordance with this Convention, each State Party shall implement appropriate and effective measures to prevent, with the help of its regulatory and oversight bodies, the establishment of banks that have no physical presence and that are not affiliated with a regulated financial group. Moreover, States Parties may consider requiring their financial institutions to refuse to enter into or continue a correspondent banking relationship with such institutions and to guard against establishing relations with foreign financial institutions that permit their accounts to be used by banks that have no physical presence and that are not affiliated with a regulated financial group.
  5. Each State Party shall consider establishing, in accordance with its domestic law, effective financial disclosure systems for appropriate public officials and shall provide for appropriate sanctions for non-compliance. Each State Party shall also consider taking such measures as may be necessary to permit its competent authorities to share that information with the competent authorities in other States Parties when necessary to investigate, claim and recover proceeds of offences established in accordance with this Convention.
  6. Each State Party shall consider taking such measures as may be necessary, in accordance with its domestic law, to require appropriate public officials having an interest in or signature or other authority over a financial account in a foreign country to report that relationship to appropriate authorities and to maintain appropriate records related to such accounts. Such measures shall also provide for appropriate sanctions for non-compliance.

Article 53: Mechanisms for direct recovery of property

Each State Party shall, in accordance with its domestic law:
  1. Take such measures as may be necessary to permit another State Party to initiate civil action in its courts to establish title to or ownership of property acquired through the commission of an offence established in accordance with this Convention;
  2. Take such measures as may be necessary to permit its courts to order those who have committed offences established in accordance with this Convention to pay compensation or damages to another State Party that has been harmed by such offences; and
  3. Take such measures as may be necessary to permit its courts or competent authorities, when having to decide on confiscation, to recognize another State Party’s claim as a legitimate owner of property acquired through the commission of an offence established in accordance with this Convention.

Article 54: Mechanisms for recovery of property through international cooperation in confiscation

  1. Each State Party, in order to provide mutual legal assistance pursuant to article 55 of this Convention with respect to property acquired through or involved in the commission of an offence established in accordance with this Convention, shall, in accordance with its domestic law:
    1. Take such measures as may be necessary to permit its competent authorities to give effect to an order of confiscation issued by a court of another State Party;
    2. Take such measures as may be necessary to permit its competent authorities, where they have jurisdiction, to order the confiscation of such property of foreign origin by adjudication of an offence of money-laundering or such other offence as may be within its jurisdiction or by other procedures authorized under its domestic law; and
    3. Consider taking such measures as may be necessary to allow confiscation of such property without a criminal conviction in cases in which the offender cannot be prosecuted by reason of death, flight or absence or in other appropriate cases.
  2. Each State Party, in order to provide mutual legal assistance upon a request made pursuant to paragraph 2 of article 55 of this Convention, shall, in accordance with its domestic law:
    1. Take such measures as may be necessary to permit its competent authorities to freeze or seize property upon a freezing or seizure order issued by a court or competent authority of a requesting State Party that provides a reasonable basis for the requested State Party to believe that there are sufficient grounds for taking such actions and that the property would eventually be subject to an order of confiscation for purposes of paragraph 1 (a) of this article;
    2. Take such measures as may be necessary to permit its competent authorities to freeze or seize property upon a request that provides a reasonable basis for the requested State Party to believe that there are sufficient grounds for taking such actions and that the property would eventually be subject to an order of confiscation for purposes of paragraph 1 (a) of this article; and
    3. Consider taking additional measures to permit its competent authorities to preserve property for confiscation, such as on the basis of a foreign arrest or criminal charge related to the acquisition of such property.

Article 55: International cooperation for purposes of confiscation

  1. A State Party that has received a request from another State Party having jurisdiction over an offence established in accordance with this Convention for confiscation of proceeds of crime, property, equipment or other instrumentalities referred to in article31, paragraph1, of this Convention situated in its territory shall, to the greatest extent possible within its domestic legal system:
    1. Submit the request to its competent authorities for the purpose of obtaining an order of confiscation and, if such an order is granted, give effect to it; or
    2. Submit to its competent authorities, with a view to giving effect to it to the extent requested, an order of confiscation issued by a court in the territory of the requesting State Party in accordance with articles 31, paragraph 1, and 54, paragraph 1 (a), of this Convention insofar as it relates to proceeds of crime, property, equipment or other instrumentalities referred to in article 31, paragraph 1, situated in the territory of the requested State Party.
  2. Following a request made by another State Party having jurisdiction over an offence established in accordance with this Convention, the requested State Party shall take measures to identify, trace and freeze or seize proceeds of crime, property, equipment or other instrumentalities referred to in article 31, paragraph 1, of this Convention for the purpose of eventual confiscation to be ordered either by the requesting State Party or, pursuant to a request under paragraph 1 of this article, by the requested State Party.
  3. The provisions of article 46 of this Convention are applicable, mutatis mutandis, to this article. In addition to the information specified in article 46, paragraph 15, requests made pursuant to this article shall contain:
    1. In the case of a request pertaining to paragraph 1 (a) of this article, a description of the property to be confiscated, including, to the extent possible, the location and, where relevant, the estimated value of the property and a statement of the facts relied upon by the requesting State Party sufficient to enable the requested State Party to seek the order under its domestic law;
    2. In the case of a request pertaining to paragraph 1 (b) of this article, a legally admissible copy of an order of confiscation upon which the request is based issued by the requesting State Party, a statement of the facts and information as to the extent to which execution of the order is requested, a statement specifying the measures taken by the requesting State Party to provide adequate notification to bona fide third parties and to ensure due process and a statement that the confiscation order is final;
    3. In the case of a request pertaining to paragraph 2 of this article, a statement of the facts relied upon by the requesting State Party and a description of the actions requested and, where available, a legally admissible copy of an order on which the request is based.
  4. The decisions or actions provided for in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this article shall be taken by the requested State Party in accordance with and subject to the provisions of its domestic law and its procedural rules or any bilateral or multilateral agreement or arrangement to which it may be bound in relation to the requesting State Party.
  5. The decisions or actions provided for in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this article shall be taken by the requested State Party in accordance with and subject to the provisions of its domestic law and its procedural rules or any bilateral or multilateral agreement or arrangement to which it may be bound in relation to the requesting State Party.
  6. If a State Party elects to make the taking of the measures referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this article conditional on the existence of a relevant treaty, that State Party shall consider this Convention the necessary and sufficient treaty basis.
  7. Cooperation under this article may also be refused or provisional measures lifted if the requested State Party does not receive sufficient and timely evidence or if the property is of a de minimis value.
  8. Before lifting any provisional measure taken pursuant to this article, the requested State Party shall, wherever possible, give the requesting State Party an opportunity to present its reasons in favour of continuing the measure.
  9. The provisions of this article shall not be construed as prejudicing the rights of bona fide third parties.

Article 57: Return and disposal of assets

  1. Property confiscated by a State Party pursuant to article 31 or 55 of this Convention shall be disposed of, including by return to its prior legitimate owners, pursuant to paragraph 3 of this article, by that State Party in accordance with the provisions of this Convention and its domestic law.
  2. Each State Party shall adopt such legislative and other measures, in accordance with the fundamental principles of its domestic law, as may be necessary to enable its competent authorities to return confiscated property, when acting on the request made by another State Party, in accordance with this Convention, taking into account the rights of bona fide third parties.
  3. In accordance with articles 46 and 55 of this Convention and paragraphs 1 and 2 of this article, the requested State Party shall:
    1. In the case of embezzlement of public funds or of laundering of embezzled public funds as referred to in articles 17 and 23 of this Convention, when confiscation was executed in accordance with article 55 and on the basis of a final judgement in the requesting State Party, a requirement that can be waived by the requested State Party, return the confiscated property to the requesting State Party;
    2. In the case of proceeds of any other offence covered by this Convention, when the confiscation was executed in accordance with article 55 of this Convention and on the basis of a final judgement in the requesting State Party, a requirement that can be waived by the requested State Party, return the confiscated property to the requesting State Party, when the requesting State Party reasonably establishes its prior ownership of such confiscated property to the requested State Party or when the requested State Party recognizes damage to the requesting State Party as a basis for returning the confiscated property;
    3. In all other cases, give priority consideration to returning confiscated property to the requesting State Party, returning such property to its prior legitimate owners or compensating the victims of the crime.
  4. Where appropriate, unless States Parties decide otherwise, the requested State Party may deduct reasonable expenses incurred in investigations, prosecutions or judicial proceedings leading to the return or disposition of confiscated property pursuant to this article.
  5. Where appropriate, States Parties may also give special consideration to concluding agreements or mutually acceptable arrangements, on a case-by-case basis, for the final disposal of confiscated property.