Statement made by Mr. J.C. Weliamuna, PC, Chairman, Presidential Taskforce on Asset Recovery on 9th November 2017

Agenda Item 5: Asset Recovery

Madam Chair

Thank you for the opportunity given to Sri Lanka for this intervention under this important agenda item on Asset Recovery.

Sri Lanka follows a zero tolerance policy on corruption and is committed to drive out corruption in all sectors and work towards a society free of corruption.
Recovery of stolen assets is a priority for Sri Lanka. Asset Recovery is an important element in the pursuit of anti – corruption. Sri Lanka has just completed the Review on Asset Recovery in the first year of the Second Review Cycle, which provided the opportunity to review legal and institutional framework for asset recovery and technical assistance requirements.

Sri Lanka created a Special Presidential Taskforce on Recovery of State Assets through a Cabinet decision to coordinate Sri Lanka’s efforts on Asset Recovery, to investigate, identify, trace, seize and transfer to Sri Lanka, state assets stolen from Sri Lanka. The Government is considering to make the Taskforce a statutory authority in due course.

Sri Lanka is well aware of its challenges and takes all possible efforts to work with partner countries to trace and bring back stolen assets. We appreciate the support of our partner countries who assist us to trace stolen assets, as well as the technical assistance, particularly by the UNODC, the Stolen Assets Recovery (StAR) Initiative in partnership with the World Bank and several other countries.

Madame Chair
Different legal systems and jurisdictions often create delays and pose problems in asset recovery efforts at all stages. It is important however, that States should not be benefited from stolen assets. All actors including financial centers should support the efforts of requesting States to recover the proceeds of crime. Failure of asset recovery efforts for whatever reason would result in those who engage in corruption gaining confidence that stolen assets would not be recovered. Further, the return of stolen assets must be unconditional in accordance with the Convention.

Meaningful international cooperation, including technical assistance, mutual legal assistance and informal cooperation among investigative agencies and Financial Intelligence Units are also of utmost importance to effective and successful asset recovery. Proactive and timely sharing of intelligence is vital.

Sri Lanka remains committed, bilaterally and multilaterally, to assist with tracing, recovering and returning stolen assets of any jurisdiction and has entered into mutual legal assistance agreements with several countries. We also provide legal assistance on an informal basis based on bilateral requests, in order to facilitate bringing the perpetrators to justice in a timely manner.

Sri Lanka has commenced drafting the Proceeds of Crime Act to consolidate and enact composite legislation in line with global best practices.
We also wish to mention the vital role of civil society in preventing corruption and in asset recovery, through contributing to the establishment of an-anti corruption culture by creating awareness and civic consciousness.

We also wish to express appreciation for the valuable work of the Open Ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Asset Recovery established by resolution 1/4 to advise and assist the Conference in implementation of its mandate on the return of proceeds of corruption, by facilitating cooperation, exchange of information and identifying capacity building needs of states.

We welcome the findings of the Working Group presented to this session and urge State parties to identify and address practical barriers cooperation in asset recovery, to build trust and confidence, overcome differences in legal systems, simplify procedures, develop new technical tools and improve/strengthen political will.

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