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Working Paper 01/2009: Recovering stolen assets: A problem of scope and dimension

Assets stolen through corruption constitute a severe leakage of state funds. These monetary losses undermine good governance, weaken a state’s accountability to citizens and drain development resources. Global efforts to improve asset recovery have tended to focus on tracing the funds, outlining the legal obstacles to their return and negotiating how to give back the money. Both developed and developing nations are responsible for stealing assets and sidelining initiatives to repatriate them to the countries from which they were taken. When banks in the North and South give stolen assets a safe haven, they profit from corruption. Ending this complicity is urgent and will help to address the finance and governance gap increasingly highlighted by the current economic crisis.