Iraq Committed to Recovery of Stolen Assets
Under the patronage of the Prime Minister, the Commission of Integrity in partnership with UNDP-Iraq Anti-Corruption Programme launched the Second Forum on Anti-Corruption in Baghdad on 9th April 2014. This Forum specifically focused on ‘Recovery of Stolen Assets”. The Forum was opened by H.E. Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and attended by the Iraqi Vice President, the Iraqi Council of Ministers, Iraqi parliamentarians, high officials from 22 countries, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Arab League.
In his opening speech, SRSG Mr. Nickolay Mladenov stated “The UN is taking accountability, transparency and anti-corruption very seriously at both the international level and within the region.” “UNDP will continue to stand by the people of Iraq and their government in their fight against corruption”.
The Forum facilitated discussions on lesson learnt and reviewed regional and international initiatives regarding asset recovery. The forum explored cooperation which included a breakout meeting of the Arab Network which Iraq is a member. During the Forum the Government of Iraq in partnership with the Commission of Integrity and UNDP launched a new three year initiative to recover stolen assets and increase cooperation with law enforcement authorities in other countries to detect, trace, confiscate and recover stolen assets in response to the growing demands to address corruption in Iraq.
Transparency International in 2013 reported that the anti-corruption oversight agencies estimate $18 Billion USD was lost 2003-2008. A study by Global Financial Integrity, based on International Monetary Fund and World Bank data estimates $65 Billion USD in illicit funds left Iraq during 2001-2010. The estimates vary dramatically though point to the need to recover assets and continue work in accountability, transparency and fighting corruption.
Iraq has taken several steps to address accountability, transparency and fighting corruption including acceding to the United Nations Convention against Corruption on 17 March 2008 which in Chapter V Article 51 states “the return of assets pursuant to that chapter is a fundamental principle of the Convention and States Parties shall afford one another the widest measure of cooperation and assistance in this regard”. Iraq adopted a National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2010-2014 which is considered good practice and covers all public institutions. Additionally, the Iraq National Development Plan 2013-2017 included transparency as a basic principle and Integrity, Transparency, Accountability and Fighting Corruption as Sector 4-34.
Emad Alemamie, Programme Manager