International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) / Phase VII of core contribution (2021-2024)

Switzerland has since many years a very proactive asset recovery policy, and has returned more than USD 2 bio. of stolen assets to countries of origin. The International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) is a Swiss based, independent competence centre in asset recovery. Its mission is supporting affected countries to investigate and prosecute financial crimes, with the goal of strengthening anti-corruption institutions and recovering stolen public assets. Due to the growing demand by developing countries for support in asset recovery, and ICAR’s unique position in this field, Switzerland / SDC continue will continue this strategic partnership.

Topic Period Budget

Legal and judicial development
Anti-corruption organisations
Domestic revenue mobilisation
01.01.2021 - 31.12.2024
CHF  2’900’000

Corruption can lead to pervasive distrust in government, generating violence, civil strife, and conflict. The results are devastating for people. Corruption is also costly - particularly for those who are already worse off. In fact, an IMF study (“Corruption: Costs and Mitigation Strategies”, 2016) estimates that bribery costs roughly USD 1.5 to USD 2 trillion annually, or approximately 2 % of global GDP.

The recovery and return of stolen assets to their countries of origin is a key component to combatting corruption. Asset recovery includes all processes involved in the tracing, freezing, confiscating and returning of funds obtained through illegal activities. Asset recovery has recently also been seen as an important component with regard to the financing and implementation of the 2030 Agenda. It is also a target in SDG 16 (16.4).


ICAR’s long-term main goals are:

- to strengthen the legal, technical and practical capacities of countries to recover stolen assets, resulting in countries becoming increasingly more self-sufficient in doing so.

-to promote the international asset recovery agenda, through the publication of global asset recovery issues and the support to global asset recovery fora such as the “Lausanne” and “Addis process”

Target groups

ICAR’s work directly targets Financial Investigation Units (FIUs), anti-corruption authorities, prosecutor’s offices in partner countries.

Being demand-driven, ICAR only operates when asked to by a government / state.

People who ultimately profit from ICAR’s work, particularly the poorest who suffer most from corruption, inappropriate governance and the lack of a functioning and independent judiciary. 

Medium-term outcomes

ICAR’s aim is to contribute to the quality and effectiveness of a country’s law enforcement and judicial system and thereby significantly strengthen the rule of law and public trust in government.

ICAR is pursuing two specific outcomes:

1) ICAR partner countries have more effective anti-corruption systems that deliver sanctions and recover assets.

2) ICAR contributes to the development of stronger laws and international standards to make asset recovery more efficient.


Expected results:  

1.    Case Advice
ICAR partner countries effectively use
their enforcement instruments with a view
to recovering stolen assets.

2.    Training
ICAR trainees improve their capacity to
conduct asset recovery cases  by at least 30%
as a direct result of ICAR training.

3.    Legal and Policy Work
ICAR partner countries introduce state
of the art investigative tools, legal instruments
and/or policies and procedures in support of
more effective asset recovery.

4.   Global Policy dialogue, tools and research
Innovative or improved responses or approaches
to asset recovery challenges are discussed and/or
introduced globally and domestically

Results from previous phases:  

-  More than USD 20 million could be returned to the Governments of Kenya and Peru as a result of ICAR’s support to those two countries.

-  ICAR has contributed substantially to global policy initiatives, e.g. Guidelines for the Efficient Recovery of Stolen Assets (“Lausanne Guidelines”)

-  ICAR’s work in training and hands-on case-based capacity building demonstrated significant long-term impact in Kenya, Peru, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tanzania.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Project partners Contract partner
Swiss Non-profit Organisation
  • Other Swiss Non-profit Organisation

Coordination with other projects and actors

Swiss level: This project will complement SDC’s work on governance and the work of other parts of the Swiss Administration such as the Swiss Directorate of International Law (DIL), the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) or the Office of the Attorney General to recover assets in Switzerland which have been stolen from developing countries.

International level: ICAR works closely with UNODC, the World Bank, the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), the OECD, the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Network (PNI), Interpol and the European Union.

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    2’900’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    1’400’000
Project phases Phase 7 01.01.2021 - 31.12.2024   (Current phase) Phase 6 01.09.2017 - 31.12.2020   (Completed) Phase 5 01.01.2014 - 31.12.2016   (Completed)