“We affirm that every country must take part in the struggle to combat corruption".
Speaking at the inaugural meeting of the Arab Forum on Asset Recovery, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said, “We affirm that every country must take part in the struggle to combat corruption, and wherever possible, to return stolen assets to ordinary citizens.”
The United States is committed to stand with any nation that strives to eradicate public corruption and official misconduct. Corruption has long been recognized as a transnational problem that demands a coordinated, global response. Its corrosive effects hinder development and siphon precious resources away from those in need. Moreover, corruption is often a “gateway crime” that paves the way for organized crime, money laundering, and in some cases even terrorism.
Recent successes have demonstrated that progress is indeed possible. This July, for example, the United States froze more than $3 million in corruption proceeds located in the United States related to a former governor of Nigeria.
Continued progress, however, will increasingly depend on the ability to work across borders and jurisdictions. The launch of the Arab Forum on Asset Recovery will help ensure that direct engagement and enforcement can be prioritized by frontline practitioners and experts as they work to prevent and eliminate corruption throughout countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
For its part, over the last two decades, the Justice Department’s Criminal Division has placed, at the request of host countries, U.S. prosecutors to serve as legal advisors in dozens of countries around the world including Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, and Egypt. Attorney General Holder announced that, with the support of the U.S. State Department, he will appoint two additional attorneys to work exclusively with Deauville transition countries, including Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, and their regional partners on asset recovery and mutual legal assistance issues.
A great deal of work remains to locate and recover the funds that have been stolen from the countries in the region. “It is our duty,” said Attorney General Holder, “to act together and to develop the investigations, evidence, and expertise that will enable us to recover monies stolen through the violation of public trust. This is our shared responsibility to the citizens harmed by abuse of office.”