01–03 November 2014, Geneva – The third Arab Forum on Asset Recovery (AFAR) took place in Switzerland. This event in the context of the G7 is co-hosted with Tunisia and Egypt. The forum supports the Arab Spring countries in their transition to democracy and assists them in the process of recovering illicit assets. It was under the patronage of the president of the Swiss Confederation, Didier Burkhalter.
Arab Forum on Asset Recovery
The Arab Forum on Asset Recovery is an initiative established in 2012 in the wake of the Arab Spring. It was established under the leadership of the United States in the context of the G7. The platform brings together countries engaged in the transition to democracy and the financial centres that could hold assets acquired illicitly by politically exposed persons. The AFAR thus supports and facilitates procedures to recover these assets.
At the request of the G7, the third session of the forum was held in Geneva from 1–3 November 2014. This year, the AFAR sought to identify best practices for the recovery of illicit assets and identify measures to apply these practices to the most complex cases.
Patronage of the president of the Confederation
The AFAR comprised a ministerial segment as well as working groups and bilateral talks to address specific cases. Under the patronage of the president of the Confederation, Didier Burkhalter, representatives of more than 30 jurisdictions and various organisations have been invited to take part, including ministers of justice and attorney generals. Egypt and Tunisia co-hosted the forum.
Restitution of USD 1.8 billion
As the host country, Switzerland shared its extensive experience in dealing with the illicit assets of politically exposed persons. International exchanges within the AFAR helped to clarify the origin of these assets and further the restitution process in pending cases in Switzerland and abroad.
Switzerland works actively to combat the presence of illicit assets of politically exposed persons in the country. Its strategy includes preventive measures, a system for freezing assets, and measures to restore these assets to their country of origin. These measures have proven effective: Switzerland has returned some USD 1.8 billion to date, more than any other financial centre.
Bringing various stakeholders together
The first session of the AFAR took place in Qatar in 2012, the second in Morocco in 2013. The AFAR was launched against the backdrop of the Deauville Partnership, which was established in 2011 to strengthen the Arab countries in transition. The partnership includes Canada, Egypt, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), a partnership between the World Bank Group and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, is closely involved in the organisation and running of the forum.