The United States is a global leader in finding and recovering public assets that are stolen and hidden abroad by corrupt regimes. The U.S. State Department plays a key role in recovering these ill-gotten gains by facilitating cooperation with foreign governments and building partner capacity and cross-border cooperation.
To help facilitate effective international cooperation between U.S. and foreign law enforcement on asset recovery cases, our Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and Department of Justice published a revision of the U.S. Asset Recovery Tools & Procedures: A Practical Guide for International Cooperation.
This guide provides an overview of U.S. asset recovery practices and how we can cooperate to investigate and recover stolen public assets. It outlines specifics required for the United States to provide informal and formal cooperation. It also provides contact information for various U.S. agencies and offices responsible for asset recovery.
What is Asset Recovery?
It is the investigation and confiscation of the proceeds of crime. In the international anti-corruption context, this typically involves assets (money, real property, high value possessions, etc.) derived from acts of corruption by public officials (embezzlement, bribery, fraud, etc.) that are stashed abroad. The asset recovery process has four main stages: investigation, freezing/seizure, confiscation, and disposition.
U.S. Global Leader on Asset Recovery
Since 2010, the United States has restrained (frozen) more than $3.5 billion in stolen foreign assets and successfully recovered more than $150 million in corruption-related assets, which have been repatriated or are in the process of repatriation.
We provide substantial international cooperation in asset recovery cases in several ways. One mechanism is through “informal”/pre-MLA assistance, which may include support to foreign investigations using routine investigative measure such as witness interviews, surveillance, and public records searches. Formal assistance, such as through mutual legal assistance (MLA) requests under a treaty or convention, is available when compulsory measures (subpoenaing bank records, enforcement of foreign freezing or seizure orders, etc.) are necessary.
Stolen assets do not have to be physically located in the United States for the U.S. Department of Justice to exercise jurisdiction over them. U.S. confiscation authority extends to criminal proceeds and instrumentalities located outside of the United States that are traceable to a criminal defendant prosecuted in the United States or to criminal conduct occurring in part in the United States. This includes if the proceeds of crime passed through a U.S. financial institution.
Read the Asset Recovery Guide: https://www.state.gov/anticorruption/resources