U4 Helpdesk Answer | Illicit financial flows

Overview of asset recovery in Germany

By Jackson Oldfield and Agatino Camarda
U4 Expert Answer 2016:7

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As one of the world’s largest economies, Germany plays an important role in supporting developing countries to recover stolen assets hidden by corrupt officials abroad. While estimates about stolen assets stored in German bank accounts are not publicly available, anecdotal evidence shows that the country has been attractive to corrupt individuals due to the secrecy of its financial system. An assessment of Germany’s asset recovery efforts is made difficult because of the lack of data on frozen and recovered assets.

However, the German government has shown growing commitment to improving its assistance in asset recovery processes and became a key player in promoting asset recovery cooperation over the past five years, including the co-hosting of the last Arab Forum for Asset Recovery in 2015. The ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption in 2014 and adoption of dedicated domestic legislation showed serious commitment by the German government to react to criticism on the weaknesses of Germany’s anti-corruption framework and in anti-money laundering. The country has complied with European and international asset freeze orders against individuals suspected of stealing and hiding public assets abroad. However, there is a lack of transparency in the data covering the size of assets frozen and recovered in Germany and significant weaknesses in regulating beneficial ownership.

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