African Union headquarters
African Union headquarter

The African Union (AU) on Wednesday urged African countries and pan African institutions to exert concerted efforts towards asset recovery as an important aspect of the anti-corruption chain so as to ensure that stolen assets are seized and return to their legitimate owners.

The 55-member pan African bloc, calling on African countries to exert concerted efforts in the fight against corruption, also disclosed its plan to host the African Anti-Corruption Dialogue from October 7 to 15 with an aim to further bolster continental anti-corruption efforts towards the success of the ambitious Agenda 2063.

“Despite the presence of numerous asset recovery frameworks and tools, progress on asset recovery especially within Africa has been unsatisfactory,” the AU said, adding that internal challenges have been cited as the absence of comprehensive policies, lack of technical capacity and ineffective inter-agency cooperation.

Figures from the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) show that in the last three decades to 2009, Africa has lost an estimated close to 1.4 trillion U.S. dollars. In addition, losses through non-trade channels averaged an estimated 27 billion U.S. dollars annually between 2005 and 2014.

The AU, which noted that many African countries continue to face numerous internal and external obstacles in recovering stolen assets, said that “asset recovery (is) an important aspect of the anti-corruption chain as it ensures that stolen assets are seized and return to their legitimate owners.”

According to the AU, the development of a common African position on asset recovery has been identified as “an important tool to assist member states in advancing anti-corruption reforms.”

The third edition of the African Anti-Corruption Dialogue, which will be held under the theme “Towards a Common African Position on Asset Recovery” from October 7 to 15, “will engage and reflect on challenges and developments in the asset recovery landscape with the broad objective of using shared experiences and lessons learnt to inform the development of the Common African Position on Asset Recovery,” the AU said.

The AU continental dialogue on the fight against corruption is also expected to be “a platform to present to all key stakeholders the outcomes of the African Anti-Corruption Year and solicit collaboration and inputs in the implementation of the key recommendations.”

The high-level anti-corruption gathering is expected to bring together representatives of AU member countries, international organizations, national anti-corruption agencies, civil society, academia and other actors to reflect and discuss on various issues circling around eradicating corruption from the continent.

The dialogue, among other things, is expected to examine the utility of existing initiatives and policy processes to enhance asset recovery, reflect on the outcome of the African Anti-Corruption Year, brainstorm and assess trends in asset recovery in African countries, identify major challenges and bottlenecks in the recovery of stolen assets, as well as recognize some of the best practices in asset recovery, according to the AU.

It is also expected to identify recommendations and strategies to inform the development of the Common African Position on Asset Recovery, it was noted.

According to the AU, the absence of uniform asset recovery frameworks between jurisdictions, presence of tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions, the skewed nature of the international financial system, the use of anonymous companies and the insistence on unduly laborious technicalities and conditionality in the recovery process continues to hamper asset recovery efforts.

In 2015, the AU had adopted an Assembly Special Declaration on Illicit Financial Flows following consideration of the report of the High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows.

As part of the continental declaration, African countries had resolved “to ensure that all the financial resources lost through illicit capital flights and illicit financial flows are identified and returned to Africa to finance the continent’s development agenda.”

The Assembly also called upon international partners and allies to agree on a transparent and efficient timetable for the recovery and return of stolen assets to Africa with due respect for the sovereignty of States and their national interests. Enditem

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