International asset recovery
The Global Focal Point Initiative
We are developing initiatives to actively engage national law enforcement bodies in coordinated efforts to trace, seize and return stolen public funds to the country of origin.
The theft of public assets by corrupt leaders has a major impact on society, particularly in developing countries. It diverts money from services such as healthcare and education, it erodes public trust and threatens governance.
Stolen assets are unlikely to remain in the country from which they were stolen but are often concealed in foreign jurisdictions, giving the crime an international dimension. The process of asset recovery is complex and time consuming and involves multiple countries. As such, there is a clear need for concerted action on a global level.
Connecting experts around the world
The Global Focal Point Initiative has been created in order to promote and increase the exchange of corruption data among law enforcement agencies and national anti-corruption entities across the world.
‘Focal Points’ are anti-corruption practitioners registered within the initiative and who form an international network of experts.
Joint investigations are pivotal in the coordinated fight against corruption, but there is a need to build and earn trust, primarily through personal, yet authorized, contacts. The Global Focal Points Initiative was developed in order to facilitate such contacts.
As of May 2013, a total of 170 national investigators and prosecutors from 98 countries had been nominated as Focal Points.
The Global Focal Point Platform
A key tool within the initiative is the Global Focal Point Platform. Available to authorized users, the Platform provides a secure means of information exchange, as well as a technical and strategic anti-corruption knowledge database.
Primarily designed to help practitioners in locating and recovering stolen assets, the platform enables investigators to pursue cases where assets may have been flown out of the country, held in different forms or are under direct or indirect controlling interest of corrupt officials and entities.
Also of great importance is the sharing of information regarding the legal systems in different countries. The Platform aims to promote investigators’ understanding of the different systems and to provide a bridge between them.
Focal points are available to respond to emergency requests for assistance via the Platform. Such a service is crucial in asset recovery cases where lack of immediate action may cause law enforcement to lose a money trail.
The Platform is available to authorized users through the secure I-24/7 police network operated by INTERPOL. It was launched in 2009 and endorsed by a Resolution adopted at the 78th session of INTERPOL General Assembly in the same year ( AG-2009-RES-06). A further Resolution was adopted in 2012: Promoting international action targeting illicit proceeds ( AG-2012-RES-02).
Products and services available on the Platform
Through INTERPOL secure and encrypted channels, registered Focal Points have access to the following tools and services:
- Information and contact details of Focal Points from other jurisdictions, who can be contacted directly for urgent requests on asset recovery information.
- Legislative, administrative, investigative and judicial frameworks concerning asset recovery in the registered member country.
- A knowledge library on asset recovery, including conviction-based asset recovery, non-conviction-based asset recovery, formal mutual legal assistance, etc.
- All valid INTERPOL Notices published for corruption-related offences. These are mainly Red Notices, published for fugitives wanted for corruption offences, containing the personal details of the individual, the precise legal qualification of the offence committed, and judicial information such as the arrest warrant.
- INTERPOL Notices to freeze assets. While assets may be transferred instantly, coordination takes longer. INTERPOL Notices can be sent in the meantime to alert member countries to enacting temporary freezing actions.
- A 24-Hour Initial Action Checklist for an asset recovery investigation: Many experts believe that after 24 hours it is very difficult even impossible to fully recover stolen assets. Therefore, immediate action is necessary. This checklist gives Focal Points a framework when initiating a stolen asset investigation, to ensure that key steps are covered, for example, identifying relevant witnesses and interviewing them, freezing and seizing proceeds of crime, and obtaining relevant documents.
In addition,training and the sharing of best practices are fundamental to success. In particular, it is a priority for us to share regionally-based case studies, best practices and guidelines with our member countries, for example, through the INTERPOL Library of Best Practices, produced by the INTERPOL Group of Experts on Corruption.
Partners: combined expertise
The Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative, run jointly by the World Bank and UNODC provides knowledge input to the concept as well as content for the Platform.
Financial support to set up and run this Platform comes from the US Department of State, through the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
StAR helps countries develop the specific skills needed to pursue asset recovery cases, through sharing knowledge and information, and providing hands-on training in asset tracking and international cooperation on legal matters.
The joint partnership between StAR and INTERPOL allows the pooling of expertise and resources to best help practitioners at the forefront of the asset recovery and asset confiscation processes.
Membership of the Global Focal Point Platform is open to all INTERPOL member countries. Applicants should be from law enforcement, judiciary or an administrative authority with a focus on asset recovery or corruption in general.
Applicants must be:
- Nominated and authenticated by the Head of the national agency in which they are working;
- Authorized by the Head of the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in their county.
The Global Focal Point Conference on Asset Recovery
July 2012, Amman, Jordan
2nd StAR-INTERPOL Asset Recovery Focal Points Meeting
July 2011, Lyon, France
1st StAR-INTERPOL Asset Recovery Focal Points Meeting
December 2010, Vienna, Austria
News & Media releases
Global Focal Point Platform
Some 170 countries make up this secure contacts database and are available for emergency investigative assistance.
Registered Focal Points can access the Platform via INTERPOL's secure website.
Supported by INTERPOL and StAR
4th Global Focal Point Conference on Asset Recovery
3 - 5 July 2013, Bangkok, Thailand
- 16-18 July 2012,
- Amman, Jordan
- 11-13 July 2011
- Lyon, France
- 14-15 December 2010,
- Vienna, Austria