Restitution of illicit assets in the context of the Arab Spring: meeting of experts in Lausanne
Bern, 24.01.2012 - An international meeting of experts to discuss the restitution of illicit assets took place on 23 and 24 of January in Lausanne. Their discussions focused on issues relating to the recovery of assets illegally acquired by politically exposed persons associated with the upheavals in the Arab world in 2011.
The return of illicit assets is a key element of the system established by Switzerland to protect its financial centre and to fight against international financial crime. Switzerland plays a pioneering role in this area. To date it has returned almost CHF 1.7 billion to the countries of origin of these assets. These figures are higher than those for any comparable country.
At the beginning of 2011, Switzerland was the first country to freeze assets held by the former Egyptian and Tunisian leaders and their entourage, in order to return the illicit assets by means of legal assistance and in cooperation with the countries concerned.
It was Switzerland's wish to bring together the various actors from these states and these financial centers a year after the events. The purpose was to summarize the first lessons learned from the experience, to examine possibilities of future action and to strengthen contacts between the different governmental actors and inter-governmental organizations concerned with the recovery of stolen assets.
Entitled "The Arab Spring and the recovery of embezzled funds: first lessons learnt and prospects", the seminar in Lausanne organized by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) brought together about 40 experts on international legal assistance and the recovery of assets from 15 countries. Several members of international organizations as well as representatives of inter-governmental organizations were also present. The different parties stressed the need to strengthen international coordination of the restitution of illicit assets.
This was the sixth seminar as part of the Lausanne Process launched by the FDFA in 2001 to promote dialogue between countries affected by corruption and recipient countries of illicitly acquired assets.
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