9 December 2004
UNODC Unveils New Initiative Aimed at Recovering Stolen Assets
VIENNA, 9 December (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today launched a new initiative aimed at assisting the Governments of Kenya and Nigeria to recover assets stolen by corrupt officials. In the 90s, corrupt officials in Nigeria looted and exported at least US$2.2 billion, and embezzled US$5.5 billion. Similarly, it is estimated that over US$3 billion has been lost to corruption in Kenya.
Speaking at a press briefing in Vienna, UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said, The recovery of stolen assets is one of the most promising and concrete aspects of the fight against corruption. Today marks the first anniversary of the signing conference of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, in Mérida, Mexico, and also the commemoration of the first International Anti-Corruption Day.
Mr. Costa continued, Even before the Convention enters into force, it allows us to help countries to retrieve monies plundered from their national treasuries. These nations urgently need funds for development. Also attending the press briefing were Ambassador Julius Kiplagat Kandie, Kenya, and Ambassador Biodun Owoseni, Nigeria, both Permanent Representatives to the United Nations Office at Vienna.
UNODC will conduct in-depth assessments of the institutional and legal frameworks that presently exist in Nigeria and Kenya, and recommend all necessary measures designed to overcome obstacles to asset recovery. Asset recovery under the United Nations Convention against Corruption represents a major breakthrough: it establishes the return of assets as a fundamental principle, and mandates that Member States afford one another the widest measure of assistance.
Another advantage of the Convention against Corruption is its global nature. Because the instrument is universal in scope, it also offers States the means to follow the money trail, to seize and freeze illicit funds, and to return stolen or embezzled funds to their rightful owners, even when the money has been transported across international borders.
To date, the United Nations Convention against Corruption has been signed by 114 Member States and ratified by 13. The Convention will enter into force once it has been ratified by 30 countries.
Public information material on UNODCs awareness raising campaign, as well as the Convention and related documents, can be found in a special section of the UNODC web site devoted to the International Anti-Corruption Day at www.unodc.org
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