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UNICRI applauds advances in asset recovery - Switzerland returning stolen assets to Tunisia

Turin -

On 30 May 2016, the Swiss Ambassador to Tunisia, Her Excellency Rita Adam, delivered to Tunisian authorities a check in the amount of 500,000 Tunisian Dinars, corresponding to approximately US$234,000 dollars. UNICRI views this announcement as a very positive step forward in the recovery of stolen assets and applauds the cooperation and efforts of the Government of Switzerland and the Government of Tunisia. This, combined with other recent developments, including Nigeria's recent announcement that, over the past year, it has recovered approximately 9.1 billion dollars in stolen illicit assets, shows that asset recovery, while often a lengthy process, is indeed producing results.

UNICRI, in cooperation with the European Union, places particular emphasis on asset recovery, and is working closely with the Governments of Egypt and Tunisia, as well as the countries in which stolen assets have been deposited or otherwise located, to more quickly and efficiently return stolen assets, as well as take additional measures to trace and identify other assets that have yet to be seized.

For the moment, some 901 million dollars in assets belonging to the Egyptian government and its people and to the Tunisian government and its people, remain frozen in bank accounts or have been seized in different countries since the Arab Spring. In light of the pressing development needs in both Egypt and Tunisia, especially for those suffering from limited health and education services, UNICRI encourages all States to take the widest measures possible, as required under the United Convention against Corruption, to facilitate the return of currently frozen assets, as well as to trace, identify and seize other assets suspected of being the product of corruption.

This requires efforts to maximize inter-institutional and international cooperation to ensure that judgements (in penal cases, as well as in non-penal cases) are entered, and are sufficiently detailed, in both Egypt and Tunisia, and to ensure that requests to return assets are acted upon swiftly in those countries where the assets are located. Since the Arab Spring, the best example of efficient asset recovery for Arab Spring countries has been the return, in 2013, of more than 28 million dollars from Lebanon to Tunisia. UNICRI is confident that the combined efforts of Tunisia and Switzerland will produce even more significant results in the near future, and will serve as an example for other States to follow.