16 May 2019
United Nations officials have recognised Jersey’s good practice in returning stolen assets to their rightful country.
At an international meeting in Addis Ababa, the Officer-in-Charge of the Corruption and Economic Crime Branch of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Brigitte Strobel-Shaw, said: “UNODC recognises the innovative work that the Governments of Kenya, Jersey, Switzerland and the UK have undertaken in developing the Framework for Return of Assets from Crime and Corruption in Kenya (FRACCK).
“The FRACCK is a novel approach to facilitating asset return and has generated interest internationally. The international expert meeting on the return of stolen assets provided a valuable opportunity for officials from Jersey and Kenya to jointly present on lessons learned from the FRACCK; this dialogue is important for strengthening good practices on asset return to foster sustainable development.”
Government of Jersey officials represented the island at the three-day meeting, co-hosted by UNODC and the governments of Switzerland and Ethiopia, where participants from around the world gathered to identify good practice for the return of asset recovery.
Examples of best practice included: early and sustained dialogue between requesting and requested states; open access to information about returns through greater transparency; and the need to learn lessons and shared examples from previous experience.
Return of Assets from Crime and Corruption in Kenya
There was significant international interest in the FRACCK signed between Jersey and Kenya. Jersey’s Director of Global Markets & International Agreements, Tom Le Feuvre, delivered a panel session on the development of the FRACCK, alongside Ms Maryann Njau-Kimani, Senior Deputy Solicitor General at the Kenyan Office of the Attorney General.
Participants commented favourably on the purpose and objectives of the FRACCK as it aligns with the principles of Global Forum on Asset Recovery in establishing clear lines of communication and shared principles for the return of assets between multiple jurisdictions.
Walter Reithebuch, Senior Policy Advisor – Anti-Corruption and Asset Recovery at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation commented: “Switzerland is committed to enhancing international cooperation in asset return and to the sharing and further development of good practices on asset return. As co-host of the International Expert Meeting on the Return of Stolen Assets, we were pleased to welcome representatives from the Government of Jersey alongside delegates from over a dozen different countries. Switzerland and Jersey also work together on these important issues as fellow donors to the International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) and as signatories to the FRACCK.”
International Centre for Asset Recovery
Jersey became a core donor to the International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) in May 2018 and Jersey’s Attorney-General, Robert MacRae QC, hosted the ICAR Winter donor meeting in November 2018. Jersey’s Minister for External Relations, Senator Ian Gorst, signed the FRACCK on behalf of Jersey in December 2018 and also signed a bilateral Memorandum on Financial Cooperation with between Jersey and Kenya.
Senator Gorst said: “Presenting on the FRACCK with our Kenyan partners demonstrates Jersey’s inclusive and pioneering approach to asset return, thereby placing the Island at the forefront of positive international conversations on this important issue.
“Increasing Jersey’s visibility and access to decision-makers in respected multilateral institutions, such as the United Nations, is an essential part of the Government of Jersey’s Global Markets strategy. I am pleased that officials from my department were invited by the UN to present at the International Experts Meeting and that Jersey’s reputation for expertise and innovation in this field has been recognised and strengthened.”
The International Expert Meeting on the return of stolen assets was held in Addis Ababa from 7-9 May 2019.
The United Nations Convention against Corruption (the Convention) is the first international agreement to set rules for returning stolen assets. The United Kingdom ratified UNCAC in 2006 and it was extended to Jersey in 2009. The UK’s implementation of UNCAC was subject to review in 2019 and the Jersey section of the UK’s final report recognises the Island’s robust legislative and policy measures to prevent and fight corruption.
In March 2017 Jersey’s Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, signed an agreement with the Government of Kenya, which paved the way for the return of £3 million of stolen assets to the people of Kenya. The funds had been confiscated by the Royal Court of Jersey in February 2016 after Windward Trading Limited pleaded guilty to four counts of laundering the proceeds of corruption.