International expert meeting on the theme of “the Arab Spring and Asset Recovery”
Bern, 29.01.2013 - Responding to an invitation from Switzerland, some 80 international legal experts met in Lausanne on 28 and 29 January 2013 to discuss practical questions concerning the repatriation of illegal assets held by politically exposed persons in connection with the events of the so-called Arab Spring.
Two years after the beginning of the political upheavals in the Arab world, the question of repatriating illegal assets still has a high priority for the countries concerned as well as for Switzerland and other financial centres. In responding to an invitation issued by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), some 80 specialists from the three countries most affected, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, as well as from over a dozen world-wide financial centres and organisations met in Lausanne. Discussions focused on a joint analysis of the efforts deployed so far in this domain and the possible future developments. At the same time, contacts were intensified between the players involved. The declared aim of all the participants remained that of having the illegal money repatriated as quickly as possible.
Switzerland was the first country which, back at the start of 2011, froze assets that had been held by the former regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. That was done with the intention of supporting the procedures for returning illegal assets to the countries of origin. Since then, Switzerland has already managed to achieve very appreciable results; no other country has so far made similar progress in its repatriation endeavours. Nevertheless, concrete challenges have also emerged in working together with the countries of origin.
This event was the seventh in the series of “Lausanne Seminars” launched by the FDFA in 2001 to deal with asset recovery. The central focus of these seminars is on strengthening the dialogue between the countries affected by corruption and the countries receiving the assets acquired illegally. The repatriation of such assets is one of the central instruments that Switzerland is using to protect its financial centre and to combat international economic crime. In this field Switzerland is playing a pioneering role. Up until today, it has paid approximately CHF 1.8 billion back to the countries of origin, more than any other financial centre.
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