What is the StAR initiative?
The StAR Initiative is a partnership between the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Bank Group that supports international efforts to end safe havens for corrupt funds. It produces reports on relevant asset recovery related topics, promotes the causes of anti-corruption and asset recovery on the international policy agenda and works with countries to assist them in their efforts to recover proceeds of corruption from other jurisdictions.
What assistance can StAR provide to countries?
StAR helps through capacity building and practical assistance to countries engaged in asset recovery. The capacity building covers a wide array including trainings in financial investigations, in the use of open source information, in understanding and summarizing financial information and in the practice of international cooperation.
StAR also assists countries to put in place the policies and institutions for successful asset recovery: laws and regulations on anti-money laundering, transparency, the integrity of the civil service (asset disclosure) and preventive measures in the financial sector. While this type of assistance is normally delivered by StAR staff on-site for short periods of time, in exceptional cases, where a country expresses the wish to have assistance over a longer period of time, StAR can assist a country through placing an advisor on-site, for a limited period of time. This type of assistance includes helping ministries define priorities, assisting in the planning and coordination of asset recovery efforts, preparing a training program, promoting good practices for facilitate mutual legal assistance, fostering contacts with regional and international officials. It explicitly excludes involving oneself in legal representation of a country, taking sides between countries, taking possession of evidence serving as a witness or managing a case.
Apart from the generic capacity building, StAR also assists in asset recovery cases by being an honest broker between countries to facilitate international cooperation. It can draw on an extensive network of internationally recognized experts in many financial centers around the world to assist client countries that are trying to hold corrupt officials and their enablers to account. By bringing together requesting and requested states, StAR assists in significantly shortening the amount of time normally taken for international cooperation.
Does StAR conduct investigations?
No, StAR does not conduct investigations for countries, financial or otherwise, nor does it interfere in legal proceedings. StAR supports national authorities by building capacity but the decision as to whether to prosecute officials and seek to recover the proceeds of corruption lies with the national authorities. StAR assistance is factual and objective, and based on the rule of law and international best practice.
Does StAR disclose the substance of its engagement in specific countries?
No, StAR does not discuss the content of any of its assistance or engagement unless explicitly asked to do so by the client country.
Why is a development organization like the World Bank involved in asset recovery?
By any measure, the amount of money gained annual through corruption is vast, US$20-40 billion at the very lowest estimates. When funds that are meant to benefit the public as a whole, are used for private ends, society, and the poor and vulnerable in particular, are harmed. That money could have built a hospital or financed a school. It is therefore important to development to ensure the corrupt are held to account and that any proceeds are returned to their rightful owners.
For additional information, visit StAR